Five Key Take-aways from the 2018 AUVSI Conference on Defense, Protection & Security:

(1) EVERY MARINE A DRONE DRIVER – The Marine Corps is now issuing small, unmanned quadcopters to every squad so they can practice and drill with drones and robots. The drones will play a role in everything from beach assaults to training.

(2) FROM AD HOC to PROGRAM OF RECORD – The Army is “taking risks in favor of accelerating programs” in robotics as the Service quickly pivots from rapid ad hoc wartime procurements to major programs of record including the Man-Transportable Robotic System-Increment 2 (Endeavor Robotics just selected), and two programs in source selection – the Common Robotic System – Individual (CRS-I) and the Squad Mission Equipment Transport (SMET).

(3) MOVE TO COTS – The Navy sees “incredible opportunity” in Group 1 (smallest) UAS because they are commercially available and because the Service “can get them outside of normal procurement channels.” The Navy has transitioned its Tier 3 UAS from the RQ-7A SHADOW to the RQ-21A BLACKJACK.

(4) LIVE FIRE ROBOTS – In an effort to make robotics a reality inside its combat formations, the U.S. Army is planning on testing the first prototypes of the Robotic Combat Vehicle by 2021, the Army to Test First Robotic Combat Vehicle by 2021.

(5) AUTOMATED CONVOYS AHEAD – The Army’s U.S. Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) will evaluate a Self-Driving Truck Concept for convoy support beginning in Fiscal Year 2019.