Sometimes it becomes imperative to defend one's country, and even one's self. The fundamental nature of defense requires more strength, of some kind, than the entity being defended against. In quite a few cases, having strength that is obviously greater than an adversary has made conflict avoidable. Sane folks will generally avoid a conflict where the obvious outcome is painful defeat. Consider that President Regan defeated the formidable USSR with the "Star Wars" defense system without any human casualties.
Robots used in warfare will allow our troops to avoid a lot of really bad situations, and they should therefore bring a reduction of casualties on our side. An added advantage will be the psychological effect on the opposition when they encounter things that have no fear. That may prove to be a valuable unintended consequence of using robots.
I was surprised at first about how many of the smaller robots look like toys, but I probably shouldn't be, since they're using the same basic technology and design ideas to solve similar design problems.
Probably all the software games that teens play have potential for being abused, Beth. Microsoft Flight Simulator seemed like a harmless way to teach kids and adults how to take off and land a small plane, but terrorists found another use for it.
From some of the pictures I've seen they look kind of like Chinese toys only bigger that you get in a Happy Meal. I wonder how long it will be before Toys R Us are selling things that look like that and then how long an engineer (like the ones that read this mag) "Upgrade" one of the toys.
I agree that even the most benign invention can be perverted, but some are much more amenable than others. In my first job out of college, we worked on instruments for an experimental airplane called the TFX. I expressed some ethical concerns that this was a military project. The boss reassured me, "This is a purely defensive interceptor.. Can you object to stopping an enemy bomber that wants blow up your mother?" The TFX, of course, became the F-111 which the Air Force then used to slaughter the people of Viet Nam. Since then I have refused to work on any military projects no matter how lucrative the pay or benign their disguises.
I do not deny the right or even the obligation of a country to defend itself but US armaments have gone far beyond any plausible defensive function, and we are also selling and giving them to some highly dubious customers.
I think this discussion is bringing up a good point: that no matter what original purpose a technology is developed for, it can be applied to some other use. Many of the same basic robot functions and design platforms used in medical and rescue robots are also used in military robots. robatnorcross is right--the original Predator drone started out as a surveillance tool and ended up dropping missiles. And so is Island_Al--many other military organizations are developing weaponized robots.
Yes, that makes sense, Jmiller. The difference here is the likely expense of these robots may never be affordable to civilian or small government (municipal) entities. So, as Ann suggested, these may have to be subsidized by the federal government if they are used for civilian search and rescue.
Sounds like this has been a behind-the-scenes industry for some time. That explains why the robots look so complex and highly developed. It will be interesting to see how soon these robots get deployed for civilian use.
New versions of BASF's Ecovio line are both compostable and designed for either injection molding or thermoforming. These combinations are becoming more common for the single-use bioplastics used in food service and food packaging applications, but are still not widely available.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This radio show will show what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.