Rob, the military, especially DARPA, has been a big driver of these robots, and they certainly have the funding. The basic platform of search and rescue and surveillance/reconnaissance robots, as are most of those shown here, can be then easily customized for other first responder uses, such as police and firefighters, who have no budgets. And no, these are not recent. Early drones appeared in the 1990s. Boston Dynamics, one of the main pioneers, started in 1992. Depending on how you define them, the development of military robots can be seen as starting as far back as WWII.
We like think in terms of our robots taking the brunt of casualties in warfare, but how about when the enemy has robots also? Our robots might save our lives, but their robots will cost us lives. We can't have it both ways. Still there is no stopping the production of robot killers.If we fail to produce them, someone else surly will. And they will no doubt use them against us at some time. Further robot killers, otherwise known as Terminators, must be and will be autonomous. My thinking is that we would not be able to depend on human reaction time as we are very slow compared to our machines.
In my opinion, based on some 40 years of software/hardware work, we will likely never be able to make self aware machines. While we can use fuzzy logic in these machines to make decisions, they will likely never have an appreciation for a sunset, a rose, or the beauty of the human form.Asimov got it wrong with his laws for robotics.These machines can however locate the human form and destroy it.Pretty sad.
The recent spoofing and landing intact of the CIA drone by Iran should be a wakeup call. I would bet dollars to donuts that the FPGA chips used in it were not protected. If they were smart enough to convince the drone to safely land in Iran, they are probably smart enough to figure out the internal electronics. And what if they send a copied drone, or squadron of them back to Iraq loaded with Hellfire missile copies to attack US positions?We always underestimate people in other nations and overestimate our own cleverness.
As a GI, I learned that tracers work both ways.I think robots will do too.
Ann, your comment about soliders using video games to train for war is spot on, but so is your comment about people who kill doing the same. I read just last week that the guy responsible for that horrible massacre in Norway sharpened his aim by playing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for hours on end. Now the scary thing is my 14-year old plays that game (I caved under pressure after months of holding off) as do all of his friends.
I doubt such a conflict would be strictly robot-versus-robot. Firstly because most recent wars have pitted a technically advanced country against a much less advanced enemy. Second, either side's robots would target the enemy's people and cities rather than robots, except when the enemy robot blocked its mission.
Compare this with aerial warfare, say in WWII. The air forces were out to bomb the opponent's cities and factories. They engaged enemy aircraft mainly when they were sent up as interceptors.
Are these robots under direct radio control, or are they at least partly autonomous?
Armed autonomous robots present serious ethical and political problems, especially if they make "mistakes" and harm non-enemies or destroy civilian property. Who is responsible for such war crimes? Or do we just write them off as "Well, it's only a robot"?
I often wondered that if we ever had a true robotic war (only robot against robot) and one side "wins", destroyed the other side's robots, would the loser surrender? Or would the loser continue to fight with the old life-costing methods.
I have design many different circuits for military applications and especially enjoy the ones that help keep solider safe like these robots. It is always interesting to see the different styles, uses and abilities of robots. The mental picture I now get when I hear the word robot looks nothing like it did when I was a child.
Just wondering.... I noticed that some of these are clearly experimental while others say that they are in use in Iraq or other tactical locations. Are those in use actual "production run" type robots or are they more of an experimental variety in which the manufacturer gave a couple to the goverment as a means of getting feedback from a real-life application?
Beth, always appreciate your insights. I think the future of war is pretty clear at least from the US persepctive. It's all a big video game. As the old quote goes, "He who dies with the most toys - wins!"
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