Michigan, USA—In a world first, British and American soldiers used Xbox-style controllers to drive drone 4×4 supply vehicles.

U.S. Army researchers from the Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) working alongside with their British counterparts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory tested unmanned resupply vehicles.

The tests took place in Michigan and lasted for a week.

Vehicles tested included a 4×4 Polaris MRZR, packed with GPS, cameras, and advanced sensors, heavy-duty trucks, and slick motorbikes. The research team aims to provide both armies with the option for drone logistical vehicles.  The cutting-edge technology is designed for getting much-needed supplies to the front line.

The 4×4 Polaris (MoD.gov.uk).

“One hundred years ago we pioneered tank warfare with our U.S. allies, and today we remain right at the forefront of military technology together,” said British Defence Minister Harriett Baldwin.

One of the trials involved a convoy lead by a British Army MAN SV 6-ton truck and followed by two US Light Medium Tactical Vehicles (LMTV).  They were driven at low speeds and operated by soldiers in a remote location, similar to how pilots fly aerial drones.

The unmanned convoy (MoD.gov.uk).

“This particular project is spearheading solutions to the notoriously dangerous operation of supplying our frontline on the battlefield. Delivering crucial food, fuel and ammo remotely will help save soldiers’ lives,” added Baldwin.

A prototype quadcopter drone prototype, which can carry more than 100kg of supplies and operated by a tablet controller, was also tested.

“This exercise has proven the success of our ongoing investment in science and technology as we see concepts becoming reality,” said Baldwin.

Since their introduction less than two decades ago, drones have proven to be an integral military asset.

The U.K. spends $48 billion on defense.  Around 1.2% of it goes to researching and developing new technologies.


Featured image courtesy of British Ministry of Defense.