UK armed forces test AI and autonomous systems

UK armed forces and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have collaborated with Australia and the US in a trial of artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems.

US and UK autonomous vehicles conducted several missions, including route reconnaissance
US and UK autonomous vehicles conducted several missions, including route reconnaissance - Dstl

The AUKUS Trusted Operation of Robotic Vehicles in Contested Environments (TORVICE) trial aimed to identify and resolve vulnerabilities of robotic vehicles and sensors that affect autonomous systems.

TORVICE follows the first AUKUS AI and autonomy trial held in the UK in April 2023. In December, AUKUS defence ministers announced their intent to integrate Resilient and Autonomous Artificial Intelligence Technologies (RAAIT) into national programmes in 2024, with this trial aiming to adopt these technologies in the land domain.

During the trial, US and UK autonomous vehicles conducted several missions, including route reconnaissance, while subjected to a range of effects generated by Australia.

Dstl said outcomes will improve the resilience of AUKUS AI and autonomy systems when subjected to electronic warfare, laser and position, and navigation and timing (such as GPS) attacks. This will also ensure systems reliably deliver capability on the modern battlefield.

In a statement, Guy Powell, Dstl’s technical authority for the trial, said: “The TORVICE trial aims to understand the capabilities of robotic and autonomous systems to operate in contested environments.

“We need to understand how robust these systems are when subject to attack. Robotic and autonomous systems are a transformational capability that we are introducing to armies across all three nations.”


Accelerating the development of these technologies is expected to have a significant impact on the coalition’s military capability while reducing risk to service personnel.

DSTL military advisor, Lt Col Russ Atherton, said: “The science and technology will be an absolute game-changer and give us operational advantage. The ability to deploy different payloads such as sensors and logistics across a larger battlespace will give commanders greater options than currently exist.”

AUKUS is a defence and security partnership between Australia, the UK, and the US established to support security and stability in the Indo-Pacific and globally.

Deepening cooperation on a range of military technologies, known as AUKUS Pillar 2, is expected to help deliver an enhanced military advantage.

Through Pillar 2, AUKUS is collaborating to accelerate collective understanding of AI and autonomy technologies, and how to rapidly field robust, trustworthy AI and autonomy in complex operations while adhering to international law and ensuring the safe and responsible use of AI.