To many people, "military robots" mean unmanned aerial or ground vehicles. Many military robots fit these categories, but some go way beyond this definition.
For example, we've reported before on Boston Dynamics robots that mimic human, animal, and insect movements. The Georgia Institute of Technology's Scalybots mimic a snake's movements. Designers of these tactical robots are trying to come up with small machines with rugged design, multiple data collection and communication methods, long battery life, the ability to negotiate rough terrain, and, in some cases, lifting and grasping capabilities. The goal is to go where humans can't without risking their lives.
Click on the image below to start a slideshow highlighting 14 robotic soldiers.
The Machine Lab's MMP-30 Mechanical Mobile Platform is used for explosive ordnance disposal in Iraq. It weighs 50 pounds (including control unit), measures about 23 inches long when collapsed, and can be carried in a backpack. Its pan/tilt color infrared camera has 180-degree pan and 150-degree tilt. The robot also sports a color, wide-angle gripper camera and a color, wide-angle rear-facing camera. The four-axis arm has a 20-inch reach and can lift five pounds at full extension. (Source: The Machine Lab)
Robots fighting wars in place of humans is a great idea until they band together and decide to fight us humans instead. In that case, let me be the first to welcome our new robotic overlords and I look forward to a life of servitude.
R.G. Make those robots nine feet tall and they would be incredibly scary. A real interesting concept. Of course they would need to have red laser beam "eyes" as well. Truely the stuff of ones worst nightmares, I would guess.
A human sized robot would be limited to going where a human could go, which could be a real limitation. Besides that, what "human sized" equipment, aside from weapons, would a robot need that would not function better if they were designed for robotic use? Most robots don't need the human survival equipment and personal safety items, and I just can't imagine that a robot with a humans K-Bar would be that useful. Even most of the rescue robots are not human sized or proportioned, although some of them are sort of scary looking.
For non-millitary applications, robots with a more human looking form may be a good choice, because that covers such a wide range of applications.
I would point out that unless iRobot has changed it's position , They do not allow weapons on any robot they provide.
And the Military has, so far, bought robots from them anyway because they can be used in many other ways. A robot following a soldier carrying most of his/her load can make the soldier far more effective for days.
I will also note a number of the other robots appear to be based off the early iRobot designs. Packbot has been in operations for years now.
As always, altering/recreating something you have seen is far easier than creating something from scratch, thus similar robots will abound.
Now, Here is your next Conundrum:
Are you aware of the FIRST robotics competition in schools? It is promoting STEM through robotics cometition. Where do you thing all those New Robotics engineers are going to end up? And what will they be designing?
Fortunately I just read a story about an early success from there, a young man now in college created a non profit giving powered wheelchairs to those who can't afford them. They take old, broken or otherwise unused chairs and refubish them. If a chair is not repairable they take it apart and keep the parts for other repairs. And it is all run by former High School kids in FIRST robotics classes.
Part of the defination of a robot is to perform tasks that are hazardous to people.
Looks like they are arming a varity of remote control cars with beefed up drive systems.
It is my opinion that military robots should be human sized. Able to use equipment designed and built for human soldiers without modification must be the goal. Even if the robot is a premative telepresence robot would have large advantages. It is difficult to injure a soldier in iowa that is fighting in solmala.
Battar, thanks for the clarification. Actually, I believe someone else raised that possibility, since I don't tend to think that way. In any case, I think you've made a good point about what, or rather who, our lethalized robots will be fighting.
Ann, you raised to possibility of a future conflict in which unmanned military robots would, in effect, be fighting each other, or more to the point, aasigned to destroy or disable the oppositions' robots (which would be similarly tasked). I'm pointing out the extreme unliklihood of such a scenario, given that the current regimes and organizations which represent a threat to the US are not typically equipped with high-tech weaponry.
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