U.S. Army's 'Future Combat Systems' Seem Like One Big Video Game

March 21 2008 / by Alvis Brigis
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 10

The clip below may look like a trailer for the new Call of Duty video game, but it’s not. It’s a powerful promotion by the U.S. Army demonstrating their Future Combat Systems network, a collection of troops, robots, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and satellite-guided visualization systems all linked in real-time. The video presents an impressive war scenario that really gets the juices flowing (great for recruitment, annoying to pacifists), but also serves as a great vision of what’s about to be possible on and off the battlefield in the very near-future.

The interactive real-time, super-detailed graphical interfaces of combat zones are nothing short of amazing and remind me of many of the video games that I’ve played. When implemented, it’s obvious that such systems will provide U.S. troops with an edge over virtually any conceivable opponent (which is why they’ve been made public, I’m sure). The coordination capabilities such a system affords are formidable, resulting in battlefield optimization that truly will save many lives while more effectively taking others.

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This is illustrated quite dramatically when the U.S. forces in the scenario cannot locate the lone remaining rocket-sniper in the hills. Rather than send in human forces to determine his location, the commanding officer orders a robot to be moved into place. The other forces safely wait for the enemy to revel himself and when he does they quickly knock him out with a UAV. Yes, a $100,000 piece of machinery is lost, but a set of more valuable humans are saved. Clearly there is great value in such coordinated future systems.

Watching the video makes me wonder how quickly such coordination technologies will be adopted by other industries. I can see high-myriad medical, traffic and business applications, but think that the first industry to pay for such systems will probably be entertainment. Such technologies and techniques will result in more production-rich movies, alternate reality gaming experiences and sports presentations (think the Super Bowl).

Despite the high costs of these new systems, there will be takers. After all, as the Army points out in the video, “Either you create the future or someone creates the future for you.”

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