General calls for quicker fielding of unmanned systems


The US Defence Department and unmanned systems developers must do a better job fielding unmanned capabilities to troops on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, a senior American military officer says.

Army Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, commanding general of the Army’s 3rd Corps and Fort Hood, Texas, voiced this concern during a speech to defence contractors at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International’s Unmanned Systems North America 2009 Convention.

More than 5000 people from 30 countries are taking part in the conference that began Aug. 9 and ends today at the Washington Convention Centre.

The convention is the world’s largest exhibition of robots and unmanned systems capabilities. More than 320 unmanned aerial, maritime and ground systems were on display, offering the industry’s latest products and innovations.
“Every day, we try to make the lives of our soldiers and their families better,” Lynch said. “And advocating unmanned systems technology is all part of it.”

Lynch has been an advocate for unmanned ground systems since 1985, just after he graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering focused on robotics, he said.

His passion continued as a young captain at Fort Knox, Ky., where he was the robotics project officer in the directorate of combat development at the Army’s Armour Centre, he added.
“I have pursued with a passion unmanned ground vehicle technology every day since then,” the general said, “because in my mind, it is about saving lives.”