It shall be a goal of the Armed Forces to achieve the fielding of unmanned, remotely controlled technology such that—by 2010, one-third of the aircraft in the operational deep strike force aircraft fleet are unmanned; and by 2015, one-third of the operational ground combat vehicles are unmanned.

National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2001 H.R.4205, Sec. 220.

3.3. Networked Manned and Unmanned Systems

DARPA is working with the Army, Navy, and Air Force toward a vision of filling the battlespace with unmanned systems that are networked with manned systems. The idea is not simply to replace people with machines, but to team people with robots to create a more capable, agile, and cost-effective force that lowers the risk of U.S. casualties. The recent use of UAVs in Afghanistan has just begun to demonstrate the potential of this idea.

H.R.4205 brought to you by Rep Floyd D. Spence R-SC, co-sponsored by Rep Ike Skelton D-MO. S.2549 sponsored by Sen Warner, John W. R-VA.


America has an addictive need for the military-industrial complex to keep churning on. Societies that get into such an economic bind—one thinks of the Confederacy's dependency on slavery, South Africa's on apartheid, the British empire's on colonialism—generally break free in one of two ways. Neither, as it turns out, is economic. Either internal pressures build up to the point of explosive violence (revolution in Czarist Russia, the Civil War here), or the society confronts its own immorality and decides to change (South Africa, the Soviet bloc under Gorbachev). Which will be the path the U.S. takes?The Absurdity of Peace

Building you own Robot Army
Automaton Dominion Products

A US National Academy of Sciences report, Technology Development for Army Unmanned Ground Vehicles (2002) defines four classes of robot:

TABLE 2-1 UGV Capability Classes, Example Systems, and Potential Mission Function Applications

Example System

Capability Class

Other Possible Applications

Small robotic building and tunnel searcher (“Searcher”)

Teleoperated ground vehicle

Mine detection, mine clearing, engineer construction, EOD/UXO, materials handling, soldier-portable reconnaissance/surveillance

Small-unit logistics mover (“Donkey”)

Semiautonomous preceder/follower

Supply convoy, medical evacuation, smoke laying, indirect fire, reconnaissance/surveillance, physical security

Unmanned wingman ground vehicle (“Wingman”)

Platform-centric autonomous ground vehicle

Remote sensor, counter-sniper, counter-reconnaissance/infiltration, indirect fire, single outpost/scout, chemical/biological agent detection, battle damage assessment

Autonomous hunter-killer team (“Hunter-Killer”)

Network-centric autonomous ground vehicle

Deep RSTA, combined arms (lethal direct fire/reconnaissance/indirect fire for small unit defense or offense), static area defense, MOUT reconnaissance

Summary from The Billings Gazette Military robots planned:

During a two-day seminar on the Objective Force and FCS in November 2001, the Army defined threshold-level capabilities for the FCS (TRADOC, 2001a,b) to include:

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the current war in Afghanistan is a prime example of user confidence in unmanned systems. The use of UAVs in military operations has been studied and tested for over 40 years. Over the last 20 years the use of UAVs in niche roles (predominantly reconnaissance) has driven the development of systems as well as requirements. The recent successful demonstration of UAVs in a lethal role in a combat situation has given the user the confidence necessary to push future development of the technology. This same level of confidence must be developed in the ability of unmanned ground vehicles in order for a leap-ahead to occur.—[1]

In April 2002, as one of its first actions the LSI for FCS requested industry proposals for 43 different technologies for FCS, including three UGV systems:

  1. Soldier UGV—a small soldier-portable reconnaissance and surveillance robot
  2. Mule UGV—a 1-ton vehicle suitable for an RSTA or transport/supply mission
  3. Armed Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) UGV—a 6-ton vehicle to perform the RSTA mission, as well as a fire mission, carrying a turret with missile and gun systems.

Each of the four classes (teleoperated, semiautonomous, platform-centric autonomous, and network-centric autonomous) varies in its need for different UGV technologies. For example, the dependence on technology in the communications area varies as follows:—[2]

The US Air Force is reported to be examining the feasibility of a nuclear-powered version of an unmanned aircraft. The revelations come in the latest issue of New Scientist published Feb 22. According to the report, 'The USAF hopes that such a vehicle will be able to "loiter" in the air for months without refuelling, striking at will when a target comes into its sights."—[3]

TABLE 2-6 Hunter-Killer Team: Basic Capabilities for a Small- and Medium-Sized Marsupial Network-Centric UGV Team

Roadmaps to the Future