Last updated October 23, 2018 at 8:33 am
Concepts which once belonged to the realms of science fiction are becoming a reality for Australian soldiers, thanks to pioneering work being undertaken by DST scientists.
Tim Bussell and his Integrated Personnel Protection team are exploring how next generation technologies could be used to enhance the performance and protection of soldiers in the future.
An important consideration is allowing the dismounted soldier to maintain control and interaction with the airborne or ground-based vehicle (UXV), without distracting him or her from the surrounding environment. This means developing intuitive control systems, and prioritising the amount of information received and how it is presented to the soldier.
A shared vision
DST’s vision of the next generation soldier is one shared and strongly endorsed by Army.
“This is an important body of work,” says Army’s Director General of Future Land Warfare Brigadier David Wainwright, “and we are working closely with DST to deliver technologies that will give our soldiers a capability edge.”
Former Chief of Army Lieutenant General Angus Campbell (now Chief of the Defence Force) echoed that sentiment, saying that Australia’s relatively small army (approximately 45,000 personnel) needed to be padded out with robotic and autonomous systems in order to be an effective force in the future.
He said that autonomous systems and artificial intelligence were becoming an increasingly important part of military landscape, and called on scientists and Defence industry to ensure that Australia kept pace.
“They are part of a wave of technological development that will change our world. As with any approach there are choices in how we handle it. We can ignore it, pursue more of the same and risk being left floundering in the wake,” he said.
“Or we could start paddling now.”
In keeping with the metaphor, it would seem that the DST team is riding the bow wave.