Large and mid size unmanned ground vehicles. The 2010 study has 474 pages, 175 tables and figures. Operational success of military unmanned ground vehicles is paving the way for wider adoption of UGV. Unmanned Ground vehicles (UGV) are assuming logistical support and reconnaissance roles. They have become mobile battery recharging stations.
Large unmanned vehicles represent an exciting breakthrough in military efficiency. Vehicles are positioned to support logistics missions, recharge batteries, carry soldier backpacks, and defuse bombs. They can provide a platform for launching laser defensive weapons. Vehicles are positioned to patrol and secure positions. They are very useful for border patrols. The shutdown of the U.S. future combat systems (FCS) program has deterred development of the large vehicles.
The companies with existing large and mid size unmanned ground vehicles already developed have achieved enormous strategic advantage because those existing product vehicles are the only ones that will be considered for installation going forward. As all development dollars have been eliminated in the short term, existing products will be funded as the military gets renewed interest in them. Both military and commercial opportunities will evolve from the automated process.9
The shutdown of the UGV programs is in no way an indicator of any lack of value of the large unmanned vehicles. It merely represents a transition to different funding scenarios and different product iterations. What is most likely is that the unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) will be funded in the near term as a way to automate the army and reduce the number of people needed to create a credible ground force in any warlike encounter.
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To position the UGVs as an effective extension of US presence in terrorist situations is realistic and appropriate. This will result in investment in automated process for vehicles that is appropriate and efficient.
According to Susan Eustis, President of WinterGreen Research, “there is no question that the large and mid size unmanned ground vehicles (UGV) will be funded again, the only question is what will be the rationale for the funding.”
If the US military industrial complex seeks to create unrealistic scenarios like contemplating a war with China or some other unlikely event, the funding will be fraught with difficulty, and the stages of development will likely be in fits and starts. If, on the other hand, they position vehicles as transport automation, the process will be smoother.
In situations in Mexico where even one drug dealer cartel has more money than most countries, enough money to fund the US healthcare systems for 10 years, the UGVs are positioned to be of significant help in corralling criminals. This is more of a military operation than a police operation because of the level of resource that needs to be applied to take a stand against the bad guys.
The emergence of a market for intelligent, mobile vehicles for use in the field and the confined areas of city fighting presents many opportunities. Units used in public spaces and on the border create a better, more flexible, more cost efficient first responder and homeland security.
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As illustrated in the chart, the development phase lasts through 2014. At that time, units become commercially feasible, initially for the military, then later on for commercial markets. These create enormous benefit for the economy, creating demand for new infrastructure and evolving new uses. Markets at $637 million in 2009, sink to $364 million in 2011 as development funds are cut, and grow again to reach $2.9 billion by 2016 as companies leverage existing technology to field military unmanned ground vehicles.
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