The currently absent Magic_Mushroom has made the point that UAVs still require significant logistical support and that 'unmanned' is a bit of a misnomer. It's really only unmanned at the sharp end. But politicians only see the sharp end.
Inevitably an unmanned ground vehicle will cost more per unit because there's a technology element. That's not in dispute.
What trials do is determine how much technology is needed, what it might cost to procure, and how that can potentially be minimised by not over-gilding the lily. Also, how can it be made more robust/more capable over time?
Other costs? Ok. Take the lifecycle. A few years back, a civilian friend asked me why the army's new side-arm cost so much by comparison with buying a few Saturday Night Specials from Walmart. He got it once I explained that the full price of training support and maintenance over several decades was included in the 'per-pistol' price.
The logistics fleet might not last as long in service as some of our AFVs (some of which - yikes - are a lot older even than me) but let's go with, say, five years. What's the five-year cost of training, equipping (uniforms and personal equipment, food, other consumables) and accommodating the driver? What if he/she has a partner on the patch who needs housing? All that's a 'cost' and not one which is reasonable connectable/attributable.
Can the technology which is used for guidance be swapped out into a new chassis once the old is worn out or declared u/s? Probably.
And yes, there's also the consideration in asymmetric warfare of casualties. We don't have that echelon running all the way back through the Netherlands that we had in BAOR. If the donkey-wallopers don't have to take casualties en route then that's a win in all respects. Not just politically. Someone not dying gets my nod.
In terms of the blanket-stacking element, you'll still need them - just fewer of them. That's inevitable with automation. A lot of warehousing is now more automated, and a lot of materials handling now has a much-reduced manual element. So, loading at the near end is done per warehousing. At the far end, maybe something like a mini-DROPS. It's not beyond people to break open a few pallets.
Ultimately, I can see this saving money. I'm good with that. We don't have enough.
If it reduces the head count - well, we're already having recruitment problems.
And here's another thing: whenever cuts are mooted, it's the teeth arms which get the most love/outrage from the press. It's led to an unbalanced army. If this balances things up, because we can keep well-supported teethe arms (which, after all, is what it's all about) it's another win.
thats a good response and a better argument than what i usually see put forward. it does seem though that this starts to ask higher level questions, i.e. what sort of war are we preparing to fight? why is the army, and the sub-units within it, structured the way it is?
i'm not convince on the money front but that's something we can go back and forth on all day (as i mentioned earlier). i'm your example the UAV replaces the soldier but the assumption there is that the soldiers only purpose is to man the vehicle. what other tasks do they perform? i will concede that you will reduce the required headcount though, but not always as much is sometimes claimed/expected.
but does it make us more effective? where i think you make a good point is that currently there is often a gap where dismounts are expected to carry kit, maybe this could improve that situation, but i'd still be inclined that there is a simpler, more robust, manned solution.
where i admit i may be operating in fantasy army land is; if you dont have enough soldiers in your unit to man them then restructure the unit (which may mean closing units and redistributing soldiers).