Unmanned drones brought tremendous tactical advantage to military operations, and now the Pentagon is looking to private companies to for driverless car technology.
The secretive defense brain trust at the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) is thinking up ways to use commercial driverless car technology in the military, according to SCO director William Roper.
“We’ve taken a very hard look with the Army on what’s the mission impact if we use commercial-style unmanned ground vehicles,” Roper, said Wednesday during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Roper said his office presents the SCO’s research to the Army soon. “My hope is that we will find a sweet spot for saying, ‘Let’s go out and start working with the existing technology,’” Roper said.
American companies Google and Tesla Motors are still developing driverless cars, and while the autopilot function promises numerous benefits, the technology is far from perfect.(RELATED: Second Tesla Crash Attributed To Autopilot Mode)
Currently, Google’s and Tesla’s driverless technology depends on roads, but the military can’t count on existing roads for most of their missions. Roper said the military should take advantage of the available technology so that when “future technologies that will allow us to go off road mature, we’ll already have experience in the pipeline”
The SCO, which also develops projects like an electromagnetic railgun, unmanned ships and drone swarms, was started by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter started the SCO in 2012 to discover new military uses of available technology.
The goal of the SCO is to get new technology into the field quickly rather than waiting 10 or 15 years to develop the systems. The SCO is designed “to help us to re-imagine existing [Department of Defense] and intelligence community and commercial systems by giving them new roles and game-changing capabilities to confound potential enemies,” Carter said when presenting the Pentagon’s 2017 budget request.
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