BAE Systems’ Multi-Operated All-Terrain Vehicle (MOATV) is a semi-autonomous vehicle designed to reduce the burden on ground troops. As well as being driven like an ordinary vehicle, the MOATV can be tele-operated by a remote control or instructed to semi-autonomously follow or go directly to a soldier operating a PDA. The company says the technology on the MOATV, which includes collision detection and avoidance systems that allow it to negotiate around objects that lie in its path while operating autonomously, can be applied to any vehicle.

The MOATV was developed after BAE Systems was charged with creating a vehicle that carries soldiers’ backpacks. UK soldiers often have to carry more than 70kg (154lb) of equipment and protection during operations which can limit their mobility.

Andy Wright, Director Technology Acquisition at BAE Systems Strategic Capability Solutions business said: “Each MOATV vehicle can be used across a platoon, with individual soldiers each having a separate hand held PDA so they can pass control of the vehicle from one to another. But the MOATV can do far more than simply carry loads; it can also be used for evacuating casualties in high-risk environments, supplying ammunition, patrolling perimeters, vehicle convoys and land reconnaissance.“

Vehicles such as BAE Systems' MOATV and IAI’s REX are the first step towards a greater use of robotics to assist ground military forces. With the US military indicating the use of robots to perform tasks that will take soldiers out of harm’s way will become much more widespread in the coming years, it appears the day is approaching when the soldiers themselves are replaced by robots.