The Army is engineering and upgrading a small hand-held device called Nett Warrior able to give soldiers time-sensitive combat data in real-time. An upgraded Nett Warrior device, or something similar to it, will ideally help the Army gather, organize, and share incoming input from otherwise incompatible formats and standards.
An enemy drone or groups of maneuvering fighters approaching for attack from beyond the radar horizon might not be detected through line-of-sight radio frequency (RF) signals or radar fields of view. A surveillance plane, aerial drone node, satellite, or fighter jet might detect the threat and be positioned to relay the information to individual soldiers on the ground. A Switzerland-based military innovator called the Fischer Connector Group is building a small, wearable soldier device intended to expedite this process. It's called the Wearable Tactical Next-Generation Hub, and it is engineered to gather all of this incoming data and enable real-time exchanges, comparisons, data transfer, or AI-enabled analysis.
Video feeds, RF transmissions and IP packets of data sent through software programmable radio can arrive in different formats or technical configurations, so engineers need to create “gateways” or systems able to convert, translate, pool, or combine different streams of incoming data.
A Fischer report describes this in terms of a “huge torrent of available information pouring over commanders in a continuous wave. How will all of this information reach commanders in time to be useful?” This is the fundamental objective of the hub.
AI is fundamental to this entire process. As it can gather large volumes of information, perform analytics to bounce off of a seemingly limitless database to solve problems, analyze data and recommend solutions.
“Huge volumes of data arriving from multiple sources, in diverse forms and contexts, could simply wash over commanders and staff and never produce actionable insights. The tasks of synthesizing data, identifying decision points, and generating options are the domain of artificial intelligence (AI) applications…,” a Fischer Connector Group paper called “The Connectivity Challenge,” states.
An aerial mini-drone helicopter, soldier thermal targeting sights, incoming electronic warfare (EW) signals, ground combat vehicles, surface ships, and commanding control centers might all use different technical standards or IP protocols for data transmission. So the Army, and innovation from industry developers such as the Fischer Connectors Group, have taken measures to create and streamline more technical synergy enabling fast, secure information sharing. This communications and data-sharing alignment, made possible through AI and computing adjustments, enables the “convergence” to take place.
“The notion of convergence is taking sensors from multiple services and multiple units and tying them to some type of command and control capability using artificial intelligence to move data very quickly,” Gen. John Murray, Commanding General of the Army Futures Command, said at an event following Project Convergence 21.
Once the incoming data arrives and is pooled, it can be organized, analyzed, and processed by AI-empowered computer algorithms performing millions of functions each second. As Murray mentioned, this speed is made possible in large measure through AI. Moments of relevance can instantly be found amid limitless volumes of information, bounced off a large database consisting of a compiled library including detail about previous scenarios and threat specifics, to perform near real-time analytics and identify potential solutions or courses of action for human decision-makers.
Kris Osborn is the Defense Editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.