This is a thought experiment…
Soldier overburden is a widely acknowledged problem. If it were completely up to me, the following is the bare minimum I would bring with me:
- Rifle/ammo in case the s*** hits the fan.
- Body armor, ditto 1
- Night vision/hybrid thermal goggles to help avoid stuff hitting the fan
- Radio to get me or my buddies out of dodge and for SA reporting
(What is your list? )
Assuming I have a limited ability to carry gear, what could you possibly offer me technology-wise that would convince me to leave one of those four critical items behind? It would very likely have to equal the capability of the item it is replacing as well as to offer new capability, otherwise why would I risk the trade? We can start the exercise with any list we like to match a given specific tactical scenario. The point is to ponder how we can reduce the number of items on a given list AT THE SOLDIER’S DISCRETION, by offering something so compelling they choose it instead.
How about a robotic partner that also serves as reactive armor, and an extension of my rifle and intent in order to shape the battle-space in the following ways?:
1) predicting threat activity at stand-off distances during dismounted operations
2) developing a situation and setting conditions out of contact and in advance of threat actions
3) autonomous threat ID and pre-emptive protection
4) facilitated access to timely data and analysis (e.g. from satellite) for real-time situational awareness
5) counter-reconnaissance without inhibiting squad mobility
6) facilitated access to the digital network for a common operating picture (COP) and coordination of external enablers (e.g. indirect fire)
7) non-lethal threat reduction
8) autonomous friend/foe, threat/non-threat, blue/green/red force ID outside of small arms range.
9) autonomous SA reporting back to HQ so I don’t have to remove my attention from the threat
Give me all of that in an intelligent robotic partner, and I MIGHT choose one of the four items to leave behind. Otherwise, I am not going to choose to bring it with me.