Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Army wants robots, not humans, making first contact on the future battlefield: Army Secretary


October 09, 2023

Dan Taylor

Technology Editor

Military Embedded Systems

U.S. Army wants robots, not humans, making first contact on the future battlefield: Army Secretary
Photo of Secretary Wormuth courtesy Military Embedded Systems

WASHINGTON. The U.S. Army of the future will increasingly rely on robots to "make first contact with the enemy" rather than human soldiers, Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said Monday during her keynote address at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual conference, now underway in Washington, D.C. 

"To figure out how robots and soldiers will work together on the battlefield, we are beginning a new human-machine integrated formations initiative," Wormuth said. "These integrated formations will bring robotic systems into units alongside humans, with the goal of always having robots -- not soldiers -- make first contact with the enemy. This will shift some of the work onto robots so that soldiers can do what only humans can: make value-based decisions, accept risk, and practice the art of command."

This is part of the Army's effort to research and develop "innovative new capabilities that will maintain our asymmetric edge," Wormuth said, pointing to the Army's effort to build its first robots outside the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community with a small multipurpose equipment transport.

"We have an even larger system coming soon -- the robotic combat vehicle -- that's designed to carry weapons, sensors, and even other robots," she said.

Wormuth stated that the Army is currently in the midst of its "most ambitious modernization effort in 40 years." In addition to robots, the Army is pursuing long-range hypersonic capabilities: "We've already delivered the first battery of long-range hypersonic weapons ground support equipment, and we are aggressively pursuing the testing and fielding of the complete system."

Counter-drone systems are also a key focus for the Army, Wormuth said, pointing to a new short-range air defense capability mounted on a Stryker vehicle designed to defeat unmanned aircraft and indirect fires with a 50-kilowatt laser.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and advanced computing also will be critical capabilities that the Army will focus its future efforts on, she added.

"New systems and technologies paired with a robust digital transformation incorporation of autonomy, AI, machine learning, and advanced computing will all contribute to the transformation of today's force into the Army of the future," she said. "As we pursue the most significant modernization effort in generations, we're building an army that can dominate in large-scale multidomain operations."

Featured Companies

U.S. Army

101 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-0101