You're looking at the official rendering of DARPA's 'Squad X', the agency's latest combat research initiative. So it's not a screenshot from Call of Duty; but isn't there an installment of the interminable war game franchise
that's set in the near future, with drones and robot soldiers and high
tech-styled health and ammo bars? Because that, apparently, is exactly
what the US military imagines soldier-to-soldier warfare will look like
in coming years. In the full-screen version, you can see a drone hovering above the fray.
Obviously, there's been a tremendous overlap between military culture
and video games, both in form and function, for many, many years. From
pilots flying drones with Xbox controllers to military adventures
providing the basis for billion dollar-grossing first-person shooters,
both enterprises are increasingly feeding off of each other; a tangled,
Squad X, DARPA explains, "seeks
to build an integrated system of systems that would organically extend
dismounted infantry squads’ shared awareness and influence." The agency
intends to go about "digitizing the squad" by outfitting soldiers with
remote sensors, loosing unmanned drones and robots on the battlefield to
collect data, and "organically" sharing the information.
DARPA highlights its three priorities of the study it's about to undertake:
"Integrated access to and control of mobile sensors, including full-motion streaming video
A three-dimensional common operating picture
The ability to organically locate and identify friendly forces and threat locations in near real time"
Basically, the agency is looking for the ability to play real-life
combat situations more like a video game. To circle around the action to
find better ways to keep those life bars from draining.
Right now, Squad X is at the Request for Information stage; the
military wants third party input to help it do all of the above. The 'Squad X Infrastructure Study' outlines more of what it's looking for:
Digitizing the Squad involves digitizing the soldier, sensing the
environment, and sharing information among squad members. Soldier
digitization will occur via soldier‐worn sensors that measure
characteristics such as soldier physiological data, operational status
and location. Environment digitization will occur through real‐time,
organic, cooperative gathering, fusing and processing of multi‐source
sensor data by squad members and unmanned systems to build a 3D world
model of the squad’s area of operation. This information will be
shared throughout the squad via a robust, secure communications network
that interfaces with the soldiers via intuitive, multimodal methods.
DARPA wants an internet of soldiers, basically, and of course it looks like Call of Duty.