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UK military uses AI technology to help soldiers shoot drones

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British soldiers are utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) for the first time to effectively target and take down drones in England.

Members of the 16 Air Assault Brigade in Colchester, located 50 miles north-east of London, are undergoing training on using SmartShooter SMASH technology this week.

With the motto ‘one shot – one hit,’ this technology employs image processing software to detect uncrewed aerial systems, allowing soldiers to aim, track, and anticipate their movements.

Following an initial delivery of 225 SMASH sights as part of a £4.6 million contract from the Ministry of Defence in 2024, these can be mounted on an SA80 A3 assault rifle and other individual weapons currently in use. The Ministry of Defence oversees the execution of defense policies established by the British government, with its headquarters located within the British Armed Forces.

Warrant Officer Joe Cooke, speaking to the BBC, mentioned, “Our usual method of targeting drones is by simply shooting at them, which can be challenging given their small and agile nature.”

“Even individuals such as medics and signallers, who do not regularly use rifles in their roles, are experiencing unprecedented accuracy levels when shooting during this training.”

Integration of AI in the military

In an official statement released in October 2024, the British Army elaborated on its adoption of AI, emphasizing the advantages of gaining a competitive edge and enhancing operational efficiency.

They specified milestones such as achieving an ‘AI-ready’ Army by April 2024, with a long-term aspiration for 2030.

As part of the April 2024 strategy, they highlighted preparations to ensure that the Army is AI-ready through providing basic AI digital literacy to the workforce, improving data quality, ensuring access to technology, and establishing relevant processes to facilitate the safe and responsible use of AI.

Furthermore, Smartshooter, the same company involved in the UK project, secured a subsequent contract to deliver additional SMASH 200L fire control systems to the US Army in October 2024 to combat drones.

Featured image: Image by Hung Lang Chen from Pixabay

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