Russia has commenced serial production of robotic systems in a belief that in the not-so-distant future their capabilities will considerably expand with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). This was the key message from defence minister Sergei Shoigu as he recently addressed a large gathering of army officers in Nakhabino, home town for the Central scientific-research and testing institute of the Engineering Troops, the 45th independent Guards engineering brigade, the International Mine Action Centre and the “766 headquarters of industrial and technological supplies” (Russian acronym 766UPTK). The latter is a public company reporting to the MoD, with a specialisation in remotely controlled vehicles. The 766UPTK provided a hangar as the place for the top brass meeting on April 9, large enough to house dozens of attendees and a line of equipment assembled in Nakhabino. Among these, there were the Uran-6 mine-clearing robot, Uran-14 uninhabited firefighting vehicle and Uran-9 unmanned combat ground vehicle (UCGV).
The Russian army has already procured a number of systems and conducted trials in hot spots. Development of more capable robotic systems will be accelerated, the minister said. In his words, robots are called upon to assist and replace humans in the most dangerous places such as battlefields, minefields, buildings/forest fires etc. “There has been some serious progress. Deliveries commenced and,at the same time, new R&D efforts began. Some new [equipment] has undergone testing. Moving forward, we have some big and serious work to do. We intend to expand the line of robots… Beyond doubt, they are already fit for army service. It is our intent to create heavier robots [for de-mining] and everything that pertains to further development of reconnaissance in the field, also robots for radiation and chemical reconnaissance, able to go on the surface, [water] and underwater”.