As soldiers struggle to deal with difficult terrain, China is deploying armed robotic vehicles to its western region amid tensions with India.
According to Indian media reports, dozens of autonomous vehicles capable of transporting both weapons and supplies are being dispatched to Tibet, with the bulk being deployed in border regions where Chinese troops are engaged in a standoff with Indian troops.
The Sharp Claw, which can be handled wirelessly and is armed with a light machinegun, and the Mule-200, which is meant as an unmanned delivery truck but can also be equipped with weaponry.
Beijing has dispatched 88 Sharp Claws to Tibet, which is located high in the Himalayas and borders India, with 38 of them stationed near the border.
A total of 120 Mule-200s have been dispatched to Tibet, with the most being positioned near the border.
In addition to the unmanned vehicles, China has added 70 VP-22 armored personnel transporters to its army, 47 of which are stationed near the Chinese border.
After state media stated that soldiers had been supplied with exoskeleton suits to enable them to cope with hauling supplies at high elevations, Beijing deployed the vehicles.
Soldiers were fitted with carbon-fiber exoskeletons to reduce pressure on their legs and ankles while transporting heavy equipment and supplies at 16,000 feet above sea level.
The troops were having difficulty since the lack of oxygen at that height makes loads feel heavier and men tire more readily.
The region, which is exceedingly arid, remote, and mainly inhospitable, has little practical use beyond a few commerce routes that crisscross its deserts, but it carries symbolic significance for both parties eager to demonstrate dominance.
Things escalated in 2020 as Chinese and Indian troops engaged in hand-to-hand combat, with many dead in clashes fought with melee weapons such as nail-studded clubs.
China accused India of provocation, while India accused Beijing of redrawing the boundary and intruding on its territory.
The fights caused a diplomatic spat between Beijing and New Delhi, with India severing some commercial relations and banning Chinese phone apps as a result.