The UK has conducted a two-week-long exercise on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire to assess the effectiveness of futuristic technologies that have the potential to transform military operations.

The exercise involved scientists from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), soldiers, aircrew and industry partners who were selected through a competition enabled by the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA).

Specifically, the exercise focused on identifying the challenges and opportunities of using new machines and how their usage can help the forces to gain military advantage.

The drill saw the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and autonomous ground vehicles (UGVs) developed by industry partners.

The UAVs were operated by helicopter pilots to provide ground troops and vehicles with improved situational awareness.

Tank commanders and dismounted troops used the technologies to identify targets in complex urban environments.

Dstl’s project manager Jamie M said: “These types of experiments are really important for the future, if we’re going to keep pushing forward and understanding autonomous technologies and behaviours, we need to have these experiments where we can be right at the beginning of the science and get soldiers’ inputs straight away into the development of the systems.”

The exercise was part of the Army Warfighting Experiment, a programme that tests new military technologies.

This comes as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is exploring the feasibility of using autonomous vehicles for combat support, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

Recently, the UK launched a competition seeking new technologies that will help in delivering a weaponised urban-optimised drone system.