US Army to beat Uber, Waymo and Tesla to building self-driving car: Why they need it more!

While driving around in an autonomous car is still the stuff of Sci-Fi movies for civilians, for men in uniform, its the need of the hour to keep losing lives on the battlefield.

By: | Published: May 1, 2018 11:55 AM

While civies like you and me, might not have any actual use for an autonomous car other than to feed our own desire to be lazy. However, in the field of war, autonomous vehicles are far from a luxury. According to the undersecretary of defence for research and engineering in the US, the requirement for autonomously piloted vehicle in the battlefield could not be higher with 52 percent of casualties in combat zones can be attributed to military personnel delivering food, fuel and other logistics. Removing people from that equation with systems run on artificial intelligence could reduce injuries and deaths significantly.

“We’re going to have self-driving vehicles in theatre for the Army before we’ll have self-driving cars on the streets,” Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of defence for research and engineering, told lawmakers at a hearing on Capitol Hill this month. “But the core technologies will be the same“You’re in a very vulnerable position when you’re doing that kind of activity,” Griffin said. “If that can be done by an automated unmanned vehicle with a relatively simple AI driving algorithm where I don’t have to worry about pedestrians and road signs and all of that, why wouldn’t I do that?”

While the technology for autonomous cars is still evolving such as to learn to traverse the chaotic city streets on its own, civilian self-driving developers must navigate a still-evolving legal and regulatory environment. But the military’s autonomous vehicles won’t roam regulation-free just because they may be headed toward battlefields, according to Karlyn Stanley, a researcher and lawyer at the RAND Corp.“The regulatory structure here in the U.S. and the countries where the U.S. may be sending troops are very different,” Stanley said. “How autonomous vehicles are going to be regulated -- in terms of safety, cybersecurity, privacy and liability -- those are going to be critical issues” the Pentagon will have to address as well, she added

“The military is very eager to learn and build upon what’s been done commercially as opposed to trying` to reinvent and do it themselves,” said RAND’s Stanley.With an annual budget of almost $700 billion, the Pentagon can afford to aggressively pursue autonomous vehicle technology well beyond fuel and food delivery trucks. The Army, for instance, is pushing forward with efforts to develop unmanned tanks and smarter vehicles for bomb disarmament, though many of those technologies will be remote-controlled, not autonomous.

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