Despite proceeding at a much slower pace than their airborne equivalents, autonomous systems are beginning to make their way to the land domain, be it from unmanned aircraft systems used directly in the support of ground operations to actual unmanned ground vehicles that are being developed and, in some cases, tested by militaries.

Systems have been, and are being developed, around the world to fulfil a range of missions in this domain, from Micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (Micro UAVs) to autonomous systems which operate on the ground supporting armies from brigade or divisional levels right down to the individual platoon.

This has been made possible by significant miniaturisation of systems, and in the space of a decade has seen Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) used in the land domain shrink from the General Atomics MQ-1 Predator providing battlefield overwatch down to handheld tiny handheld UAS that can be used to provide Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance at platoon or even squad level.


The Australian Army has embraced the use of tactical UAS over the past decade or so, breaking a lot of new ground in the use of such systems. Today it is one of the biggest army users of UAS in the world and is also the first in the world to proliferate this technology among its troops when it started issuing the FLIR Systems PD-100 Black Hornet at the platoon level.

This tiny helicopter-shaped Nano-UAS (NUAS) fits within a human palm, weighing a mere 18 grams including its onboard cameras and with a rotor disc diameter of 120mm. The NUAS can stay aloft for up to 25 minutes and its digital data link is able to work beyond 1.6 km away within line-of-sight.

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.

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