The military continues to hone its vision to build a full-scale matrix of (smart) war that is being branded the Internet of Battlefield Things (IoBT).
The ability of the Army to understand, predict, adapt, and exploit the vast array of internetworked things that will be present of the future battlefield is critical to maintaining and increasing its competitive advantage. The explosive growth of technologies in the commercial sector that exploits the convergence of cloud computing, ubiquitous mobile communications, networks of data-gathering sensors, and artificial intelligence presents an imposing challenge for the Army. These Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will give our enemies ever increasing capabilities that must be countered, but commercial developments do not address the unique challenges that the Army will face in using them.
Thus begins the synopsis of the U.S. Army’s solicitation for participants in a collaborative effort to upgrade U.S. war capability, citing the familiar narrative of the problem-reaction-solution Third Offset Strategy which sees the U.S. playing catch-up with superpowers like Russia and China in the ever-evolving global arms race.
Virginia Tech’s ECE explains the mission further:
The project, entitled “Optimal Placement of Things in an Adversarial Internet of Battlefield Things,” will focus how, when, and where to strategically deploy and operate a number of different smart devices in an integrated IoBT.
“This research will marry notions from data analytics, information theory, game theory, and distributed learning, ” said Saad. “But in order to craft a strong deployment strategy, we have to juggle a number of complex variables.”
These variables include heterogeneous sets of data sources, the rapidly shifting makeup of the battlefield environment, the wide-ranging capabilities of smart items, the need to account for human behavior on the battlefield, and the adversarial nature of the IoBT due to the possibility of malicious attacks.
To overcome these challenges, the team will develop the first comprehensive data-driven framework for optimizing the placement of “things” within a large-scale battlefield environment. The proposed framework will expedite the deployment of the IoBT by providing precise guidelines on how, when, and where to place the various smart devices in relation to enemy forces.
“This research will enable military strategists to leverage massive battlefield data sets and lay the foundations of tomorrow’s IoBT,” said Saad.
The work currently being outlined by the Army Research Laboratory appears to be the evolution of an earlier project called MUSIC that I covered in 2011. It was part of Future Combat Systems to integrate unmanned and manned aircraft across all branches of military, and would include a variety of autonomous systems, including drone swarms.
As you can see, the image below seems rudimentary compared to the one pictured above, but a similar concept is readily apparent.
The Army Research Laboratory is taking a multi-discipline approach with side-by-side programs called “Distributed and Collaborative Intelligent Systems and Technology” and the aforementioned “Internet of Battlefield Things.” Investment is expected to ramp up in the coming year. We’ll keep you up to date as new details emerge about the race toward a future of automated warfare.
H/T: Defense One
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Image Credit: Virginia Tech