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U.S. and U.K. to study robotic troop re-supply

Program announced Thursday aims to speed up development of robotic and autonomous resupply systems.

By Geoff Ziezulewicz
U.S. and U.K. to study robotic troop re-supply
The U.K. Ministry of Defense announced a partnership with the Pentagon Thursday to explore robotic resupply systems for challenging environments. Pictured, U.S. Army transport soldiers pause during a convoy in northeastern Afghanistan in 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Luis Saavedra

LONDON, July 15 (UPI) -- The United Kingdom and the United States announced a program Thursday to speed up development of robotic and autonomous systems that can resupply troops in tough environments.

The program, expected to last up to four years, seeks to mitigate "the last mile," or the final stage of transporting supplies to troops in challenging environments, the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement.

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That stage of resupply can be lengthy and dangerous for those escorting the supplies, and robotics can make the process more efficient in terms of cost, time and risk, the MOD said.

A series of trials, including air and ground drones, will begin next year with an autonomous truck convoy demonstration.

Alongside the trials, the two governments will reach out to industry and academia to identify further technologies.

It will all culminate in a final trial event slated for 2019, when a range of selected technologies will be unified in one, integrated system, the MOD said.

On the U.K. side, the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory will lead in the way in conjunction with British army staff.

The Pentagon's Tank Automative Research, Development and Engineering Center will spearhead the effort across the pond.

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