US Army top future robotic systems are combat drones with triple the range and various self driving ground vehicles

US Army’s top five priorities for robotic systems

1. In fiscal 2018, the Army will begin fielding improved General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones, which carry sensors and four AGM-114 Hellfire missiles. Today, the Gray Eagle can stay over a target area eight hours at a range of 725 miles from its base, Allyn said. The Improved Gray Eagle will have greater payload capacity and near triple the range (about 2000 miles) of the existing system.

In July 2015, the Army’s Gray Eagle procurement plan was amended to include the extended-range Improved Gray Eagle, purchasing an initial 36 units for the Army’s intelligence and special forces groups; the first 19 IGEs were ordered in June 2015 for the first delivery in September 2017 and completion by September 2018.

The Improved Gray Eagle has a maximum gross takeoff weight 4,200 lb (1,900 kg) with its 205 hp engine, compared to the Gray Eagle’s 3,600 lb (1,600 kg) MGTOW and 160 hp engine. The Gray Eagle can carry 575 lb (261 kg) of fuel, while the IGE can carry 850 lb (390 kg) of fuel internally with its deep belly design and 500 lb (230 kg) centerline hardpoint. External fuel tanks can add 450 lb (200 kg) of extra fuel, allowing for a 50-hour endurance. The IGE also increases internal payload capacity from 400 lb (180 kg) to 540 lb (240 kg). Empty weight is 1,318 kg (2,906 lb), endurance without the external tank is 45 hours, and engine can sustain an output of 180 hp continuously. General Atomics has added new winglets that can increase endurance a further one percent and allow the addition of a new vertical antennae. A special operations configuration can carry two Hellfire missiles and a SIGINT payload for 35 hours, as opposed to 14–15 hours for the Block 1 Grey Eagle

2. Lighten soldiers’ physical and cognitive load with the squad multipurpose mission transport.

3. Unmanned trucks and platooned trucks

The Leader-Follower program is developing convoys consisting of four driverless trucks led by one manned by a crew of two

4. Future unmanned systems must facilitate movement and maneuver. Scalable control will allow drone operators and recovery teams to transfer control of their aircraft to troops in the field so they can control them during operations.

Common Robotic Systems will have individual, man-portable, miniature and highly mobile unmanned systems which will be capable of providing dismounted forces with ground-based surveillance and reconnaissance, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detection, and explosive ordnance disposal capabilities.

5. Future unmanned systems must help protect soldiers. Robots of the future need to be able to find deeply buried IEDs and detect other threats.