LONDON, July 14 (Xinhua) -- A joint initiative between Britain and the United States to develop robots to supply frontline troops was announced Thursday at the Farnborough International Air Show.
British Defense Minister Philip Dunne and U.S. Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall said both countries want to speed up the impact that robotic and autonomous systems can have on re-supplying their armies through the program.
"The final stage of transportation of supplies to troops in challenging environments, often dubbed 'the last mile,' can be particularly lengthy and dangerous for those involved. It is in situations like this that both countries feel robotics can make the process more efficient in terms of cost, time and risk," a British Defense Ministry spokesperson said.
"A series of trials of autonomous systems, including unmanned air and ground vehicles, will begin in October next year, with an autonomous truck convoy demonstration kicking things off at the U.S. Army war fighting assessment trials," he added.
Alongside trials, calls to industry and academia will also be made to identify further test technologies, with work set to culminate in a final trial event in October 2019, where a wide range of selected technologies will be brought together in one, integrated system.
At Farnborough, Dunne and Kendall outlined how science and technology teams in both countries have been working together for six months to develop innovative proposals which can benefit the defense industry and beyond.
Dunne said: "This collaboration on assured re-supply will put our nations at the forefront of future developments -- allowing us to transform our approach to military logistics."
Kendall said the joint program would deepen bilateral defense science and technology cooperation. "Our collaboration will help grow our advantage in autonomous systems and human-machine collaboration and will help drive interoperability between U.S. and UK systems into the future," he added.
The move came after U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon challenged their departments to drive a collaborative approach on innovation between both countries.
The robotics work will be led by the British Defense Science and Technology Laboratory in partnership with British Army staff. In addition, the British Army is supplying personnel and equipment in support of the demonstrations and experiments.
In the United States, the work will be led by the Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center. The program will last for up to four years.