U.S. Army plans to use drones, target recognition, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to tell the colonels and generals where an attack appears imminent, according to Popular Mechanics.
The Army’s Aided Threat Recognition from Mobile Cooperative and Autonomous Sensors (ATR-MCAS) program aims to operate autonomous air and ground drones throughout the battle zone, keeping a continuous watch on the enemy. The drones identify the enemy weapons systems, such as tanks or infantry fighting vehicles, then pass on the sightings to the AI. The AI will then, according to the Army, “identify, classify, and geo-locate entities, obstacles, and potential threats, generating a “common operating picture” (COP) of the battle zone.
Situational awareness, or the ability to know your position in relation to your surroundings and the enemy, is vitally important in wartime. A U.S. Army tank platoon slugging it out with their enemy counterparts may lose situational awareness due to the demands of combat. ATR-MCAS will allow those tankers to devote their attention entirely on the fight at hand, without the distraction of what is going on to the left and right of them. Once the battle is over, a quick look at the COP will get the platoon up to speed for the next fight.
Locating enemy forces is nothing new, but it’s what ATR-MCAS does next that makes it next level. The COP data is, “processed by an AI-enabled decision support agent, which can make recommendations such as the prioritization of the threats for Soldiers to utilize.” For example, if it notices a dozen tanks proceeding down one road towards U.S. troops and four tanks proceeding down a parallel road, it might flag the larger number of tanks as a higher priority.
ATR-MCAS will never take the place of the S-2, the human intelligence officer in an Army battalion. An AI is no match for a trained and experienced human eye, but what it can do is quickly analyze and prioritize information in order of likely importance. The AI can help make sense of dozens or even hundreds of sightings of enemy equipment on the battlefield, ensuring combat leaders and their staff avoid information overload while still bringing threats they might have missed to their attention.