Jun 13, 2024

NATO Prepares Autonomous Robot Army for Future Warfare

The future of warfare is rapidly changing, with NATO taking significant steps to prepare for battles not fought by soldiers but by autonomous military robots. Following the example of Ukraine, Russia, and the United States, NATO has embarked on creating its own fleet of autonomous robotic vehicles.

A substantial contract worth 9 million euros has been awarded to the German company ARX Robotics to develop and manufacture a series of unmanned armored ground vehicles. This initiative is funded by the NATO Investment Fund, an independent venture capital fund of one billion euros involving 24 of the 32 member countries.

This development follows the recent announcement by the Pentagon of the Replicator program, an ambitious project aimed at creating a vast fleet of replicable, low-cost robotic combat squadrons. These initiatives mark a significant shift in military strategy, emphasizing the role of technology in future conflicts.

The decision comes just two months after humanity witnessed the first-ever battle between robots, where Russian unmanned ground robots engaged in combat with Ukrainian “kamikaze” drones.

The new robots developed by ARX will not be armed but will support ground forces in roles such as transport, medical evacuation, and drone deployment. Each robot is equipped with tracking technology and can be fitted with various technologies, including radar and mine detection devices.

“Western democracies are not prepared for robotic warfare,” said Marc Wietfeld, CEO and co-founder of ARX Robotics. He emphasized the need for a critical mass of interconnected, unmanned autonomous ground systems to significantly enhance military capabilities.

The modular design of ARX Robotics’ machines allows them to be easily modified for various attack and defense functions. The largest model, the GEREON, is an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) capable of carrying up to 500 kg. These robots can be configured quickly on the battlefield and communicate through software and artificial intelligence. They can operate autonomously or be remotely controlled if needed.

To date, ARX Robotics has developed 12 robots, tested by the militaries of Ukraine, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary. These UGVs are relatively affordable, with prices ranging from 30,000 to 150,000 euros each.

Wietfeld highlighted the importance of decentralized production and the deployment of these systems on a large scale. He emphasized ARX’s commitment to contributing to European technological sovereignty by expanding production, generating software-defined systems, and developing adaptable hardware to meet the demand for robust and autonomous unmanned systems.

As Europe and countries like Portugal debate the possibility of reinstating mandatory military service, including for women, the prospect of deploying robots to the battlefield offers a more palatable alternative for future conflicts.

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