Real unmanned russian robotic tanks by 2017, AI, combat lasers, railguns and the Fictional Bolo Tank Timeline

A Russian defense firm that produces the brand-new Armata T-14 tank also plans to build an army of new combat robots within the next two years. This would be a next step towards machines guided by artificial intelligence

Uralvagonzavod, the company that introduced the ‘super tank’ Armata T-14 back in May, is now trying to step away from piloted military technologies and is eager to develop artificial intelligence.

“We will be able to show prototypes in 1.5 to 2 years. We are gradually moving away from crewed machines,” Vyacheslav Khalitov, the company’s deputy director general

With an armored capsule for the three-man crew, the tank is notable for having an unmanned turret equipped with fully remotely controlled 125mm smoothbore cannon and 7.62mm machine gun.

Fictional Bolo Tank Timeline

The Mark I Bolo is essentially described as a 150 tonne conventional tank powered by diesel engines and equipped with various servos and mechanical devices to reduce crew requirements. It is developed around the year 2000 by the fictional Bolo Division of General Motors.

The 300-tonne Mark III incorporates limited AI routines allowing limited independent action and is powered by ionic batteries able to support combat-level activity for up to ten years and enabling operation even when fully submerged.

Rendering of a fictional Bolo tank

* self driving vehicles with not self aware artificial intelligence is a reality now with self driving cars, trucks and drones

* combat lasers in the 150 kw range exist now and within two years will be 300 kilowatts and a megawatt within about 7 years.

* railguns are being deployed and will be shooting hypervelocity projectiles. Power and other systems will be made more compact and could be fitted to tanks in about 15-40 years

Equivalents of the Mark X type Bolo could be built in about twenty years.

The General Atomics Blitzer system, began full system testing in September 2010. The weapon launches a streamlined discarding sabot round designed by Boeing’s Phantom Works at 1,600 m/s (5,200 ft/s) (approximately Mach 5) with accelerations exceeding 60,000 g. During one of the tests, the projectile was able to travel an additional 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) downrange after penetrating a 1⁄8 inches (3.2 mm) thick steel plate. The company hopes to have an integrated demo of the system by 2016 followed by production by 2019, pending funding. Thus far, the project is self-funded.

The main problem the U.S. Navy has had with implementing a railgun cannon system is that the guns wear out due to the immense heat produced by firing. Such weapons are expected to be powerful enough to do a little more damage than a BGM-109 Tomahawk missile at a fraction of the projectile cost

Engines for a future Bolo tank

The current design of a land based railguns has two large trucks for carrying the power supply. If a more dense power supply can be produced then it would enable a tank sized railgun

Superconducting engines would have the same power but be one third the size or they could have triple the power at the same size.

Molten salt reactors will also be powerful and compact and should be working in the 2020s.