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Stoking its rivalry with the Air Force, the Army plots a way forward for its fleet of unmanned airplanes -- predicting a wider range of missions, the rise of remotely piloted helicopters and the arrival of swarms of indoor-flying mini-drones. Army officials Thursday released a plan that lays out how the service will use unmanned aerial vehicles over the next 15 years, proposing a future where autonomous UAVs fly for days over battlefields or for scant minutes inside buildings.
Maj. Gen. James Barclay III, the commanding general in charge of Army aviation, today released the "Unmanned Aircraft Systems [UAS] Roadmap 2010–2035" at an Army aviation conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Its subtitle, "Eyes of the Army," hints at the plan's early focus on reconnaissance, but the scope of the roadmap expands enough so that, by 2025, a single soldier will be able to use a common controller to operate multiple kinds of unmanned aerial vehicles, including tiny robots that can fly indoors.
Army officials flatly state that this will not happen. "We don't believe in the next 25 years you will see a level of autonomy that we as an American people would allow ... a platform to kill autonomously," Carlile says. "It comes down to this: The technology will exist before we, as a people and as a nation, will accept it."