The French army will test heavy robots in operation in Mali as early as next year

The French army will test heavy robots in operation in Mali as early as next year

Heavy robots will be tested in operation to support French soldiers in Mali as early as next year, reveals The Tribune confirming a report from the specialized blog FOB. A first experiment, funded by the Defense Innovation Agency (AID), had taken place at the end of March at the CENZUB, the training center for actions in urban areas that is used for urban combat training of the French army, and had involved French soldiers in combat conditions against wheeled or tracked robots. France will also test robotic mules in external operations to help with supplies (ammunition, food or other), provide a link between two remote groups or for observation and reconnaissance missions.

According to information from the Tribune, several companies had been invited for this first demonstration, including Nexter (observation and transport robots with a 20 mm cannon) and Arquus (small remotely operated protected vehicles), Tecdron (observation and transport) and Shark Robotics (transport, observation, articulated arm…). The Safran company had not participated in the experiment, but the business newspaper says it should join the tests later.

Robotization represents one of the priorities of the French army, as explained in October 2018 by the chief of staff of the army, General Jean-Pierre Bosser, before the deputies of the Defense committee: “my essential priority in terms of innovation concerns robotization and the ability to imagine or build machines that lighten soldiers in operation and act as robots with a form of intelligence”.

An intelligent technology yes, but not totally autonomous. The Minister of Defense Florence Parly had stressed a few months ago that “the French position is unambiguous, the President of the Republic has been perfectly clear: France refuses to entrust the decision of life or death to a machine that would act fully autonomously and would escape all human control”.

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