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Australia, UK, US Demo AI in Autonomous Military Systems

The Australian military has partnered with the UK and the US to showcase the operability of autonomous assets with artificial intelligence (AI) in South Australia.

Called the Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles (TORVICE), the demonstration required unmanned robotic vehicles to complete missions through AI software while maintaining network connectivity in complex land-based scenarios.

TORVICE saw scientists employ electro-optical laser, electronic warfare, and navigation and timing challenges to validate the unmanned ground vehicles’ resilience.

In other activities, some robotic systems took the role of autonomous multi-domain launchers and larger unmanned vehicles to simulate long-range precision fires and associated missions without the use of actual weapons.

UK Defence Science and Technology (DST) Laboratory Principal Adviser Guy Powell highlighted the importance of “networked autonomy” performed by the systems for modern warfare.

A Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in a Contested Environment (TORVICE) trial was held in South Australia in late 2023. The live trial involved personnel from Australia, the US and UK testing autonomous ground vehicles in a contested electronic warfare environment. TORVICE is part of Australia's commitment to AUKUS Pillar II Advanced Capabilities.
Personnel run a drill prior to a Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in a Contested Environment (TORVICE) trial. Photo: Australian Department of Defence

“Robotic and autonomous systems have the potential to transform the battlefield providing a force multiplier while reducing risk to warfighters,” Powell stated.

“TORVICE allows us to understand robotic autonomous systems’ operation in a contested environment and increase resilience of these systems. Working across three nations will accelerate development of robust capable systems.”

Supporting AUKUS Strategy

UK DST Land and Integrated Force Chief Shane Canney further explained the significance of the TORVICE project for the trilateral AUKUS strategic cooperation in future terrestrial, naval, airborne, and digital operations.

“Understanding how robotic vehicles react in contested environments accelerates our collective know-how and helps improve the system to overcome such attacks,” Canney said.

“Transitioning trusted robotic capabilities into the hands of our warfighters safely and ethically is a priority.”

Australian Autonomy Projects

The Australian government signed contracts with 11 local companies earlier this month to develop drones and corresponding production plans for huge orders.

In October 2023, Canberra’s army trialed robotic armored personnel carriers with integrated remote weapon systems for autonomous traveling and neutralization capabilities.

Australian academics launched an algorithm that could protect unmanned military robots from cyberattacks the same month.

Four months prior, the army completed its first deployment of an autonomous truck convoy on public roads across Victoria.

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