DARPA believes the future of tank warfare won't be heavily armored lumbering beasts, but fast-moving, agile vehicles, augmented by "intelligent systems" to avoid incoming threats. A newly released video shows how a head-up display would project an array of information directly into the field of view of the driver.
According to a DARPA statement released with this video, "crew augmentation" is key to improving the survivability of its Ground-X Vehicle Technology (GXV-T).
The concept video illustrates five of many potential approaches:
- A closed cockpit that would use visualization technologies to provide high-definition, wide-angle visibility of external conditions
- Path planning that would display optimal routes
- Sensors that would use a variety of technologies to visualize surroundings and identify and track allies and adversaries
- Terrain classification that would evaluate surroundings for optimal travel surfaces
- Autopilot capabilities that would automate routine driving tasks to enable drivers to focus on more strategic activities
As the BBC reports:
"It reads to me like they intend to incorporate a number of unmanned advances," says Maren Leed, a senior advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. That would allow the crew to focus on their mission while the vehicle reaches its destination automatically. It could either be fully autonomous, or it could be 'remote controlled' with a degree of autonomy. This is how drones are piloted, from a remote location. A combination of the two would allow one remote pilot to oversee several semi-autonomous tanks, while their occupants are busy spotting potential targets.
"It looks like one of those Halo vehicles," says Scott Aughenbaugh, deputy director for strategic futures at CSIS, who adds that the the U.S. army is making a big push towards consideration of megacities as possible battlefields of the future. "One thing they realize is that sending an Abrams tank down the center of a street in a disaster area is not easy, so they have to have some smaller lightweight vehicles for some of those places."