Dmitry Rogozin, former director general of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, noted that the Marker unmanned ground vehicle's (UGV) capabilities will include the ability to automatically detect and target enemy military equipment, including tanks. (Related: Autonomous KILLER BOTS to dominate battlefields soon as war in Ukraine leads to significant advances in drone technology.)
"The combat version of the Marker robot has an electronic catalog in the control system that contains images of targets both in the visible and in the infrared range," said Rogozin, who currently serves as the head of a special group of military advisors known as "Tsar's Wolves."
Rogozin announced the development of the robotic combat vehicle on Telegram and said his group was working with the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defense Industry, a state-sponsored research agency, and a private company called Android Technology, which is responsible for creating the original Marker robot, which was designed to be a ground reconnaissance UGV.
"Everyone agrees that our strike [version] of the Marker, before the arrival of the Abrams and Leopards in Ukraine, should be prepared for their destruction," said Rogozin.
Rogozin noted that the Marker will be able to select targets independently and hit them with appropriate means. These can include anti-tank missile systems, heavy machine guns or other weapons.
Android Technology claims the Marker can be outfitted with carriers for up to 16 kamikaze quadcopters that are designed to crash into and take down enemy drones.
Samuel Bendett, an adjunct senior fellow at the think tank, the Center for a New American Security, noted that the idea of autonomous vehicles dominating battlefields is to "replace a soldier in dangerous missions, and to make missions more effective."
The whole point of UGVs like the Marker is to provide militaries with an asset that can be expendable. But currently there are very few existing Marker tanks in Ukraine that are ready to do combat missions.
"It appears that most of the existing Markers, three out of five, will in fact be tested in Ukraine, and can be lost in combat," said Bendett. "It also appears that Android Technology is actually okay with that, indicating a willingness to respond to the [Russian Ministry of Defense's] needs for improved weapons and tactics, and perhaps indicating that the company is working on other projects that can build on the Marker experience."
Retired Col. Yuri Knutov of the Russian armed forces noted that the Marker robots are already equipped with an artificial intelligence system and machine learning technological capabilities.
Furthermore, Knutov pointed out that Russia already has extensive experience using robotic equipment in Syria. But more tests will need to be conducted, as the landscape of the Syrian battlefield was significantly different from that of Ukraine. This would explain why only a handful of Marker robots are currently on the ground in Ukraine. Their presence is being used to study their behavior in more urban areas and make possible improvements to the technology.
"Such robots were designed for urban environments in the first place," said Knutov. "Its artificial intelligence will develop."
Knutov added that the Marker robots will also be trained for use in very flat terrain such as in eastern Ukraine, where they will be deployed to counter the Western tanks supplied to the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Learn more about the technological developments brought about by the conflict in Ukraine at MilitaryTechnology.news.
Watch this clip from US Military News discussing the arrival of M1 Abrams tanks to Ukraine.