In the coming months, the United States Army is sending its first robotic Humvee to a field training exercise to see if the autonomous combat vehicle can accurately destroy targets, as part of a new experimental program to weaponize robots.
The killer Humvee, which is called the ‘Wingman,’ is part of the Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, or JCTD program, where engineers have developed autonomously piloted weaponized vehicles in hopes it will provide direct and indirect fire support for ground troops trapped in dangerous situations on the battlefield.
According to the Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC program, the goal behind the “Wingman” is to train soldiers and weaponized robotic vehicles to work together on the battlefield to confront America’s enemies. Army engineers say it will be Soldiers, not computers, which decide when the robotic Humvee fires a round.
The Army Armaments Research Development and Engineering Center, or ARDEC, and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division are also partners in the program, which was launched last year and funded with roughly $20 million after years of positive testing.
Popular Mechanics explains how the Wingman system works,
Right now, two Humvees make up the Wingman experiment: a manned M151 Humvee and the unmanned M1097 Wingman vehicle. Inside the crewed vehicle, three soldiers are assigned to take over key Wingman tasks. One of them handles Wingman’s target detection and laser range-finding, the second drives the vehicle if necessary, and the third pulls the trigger on the Wingman’s gun.