Unmanned aerial vehicles have become a common sight in many global conflicts, allowing machines to enter potentially perilous situations while keeping humans out of harm’s way.
Now a similar approach is being taken to land-based vehicles, with the British Army announcing this month that it is rolling out a series of unmanned and autonomous tanks.
The self-driving system that has been developed for these vehicles is known as Titan Strike, and it means that a fully armoured unit can lead from the front and arrive in combat zones to lay down fire and suppress the enemy while the fragile, fleshy troops follow a little later to mop up the leftovers.
This is not just a safety-boosting measure that should significantly lower the number of casualties that are suffered; it is also a step that will lead to millions of pounds in savings. The design of the tank is simpler, and it requires less protection as there are no human occupants to shield from danger.
The versatile role that autonomous tanks could fill in the armed forces would not be purely assault-based, with the Army also intending to use them as a means of quickly and efficiently shifting supplies to troops in hard-to-reach locations without having to dedicate manpower to this process.
Such significant shifts would potentially mean that traditional tanks would become extinct and their self-driving replacements would take over completely. The only way to experience tank driving would be as a recreational activity; fans might visit Armourgeddon and other outdoor tank driving excursion providers just to get the thrill of controlling this outdated tech.
Shape of the Future
There is little question that as autonomous systems become more sophisticated, militaries from many parts of the world will shy away from putting people in the firing line any longer and instead dedicate a lot of their resources to relying solely on unmanned equipment.
Ideally, this change might eventually render warfare redundant altogether. After all, conflicts settled between machines might just as easily be conducted in virtual space rather than in the physical world. War could then evolve into a kind of sport, excluding any actual loss of life and making society more stable and sustainable while also allowing defence spending to be redirected to other causes.