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The Military Robotics

Weaponized Robots Could Take Point In Future Military Ops 182

Posted by samzenpus
from the why-did-you-program-me-to-feel-pain? dept.
Lucas123 writes "This past week at Ft. Benning, weaponized robot prototypes from four robotics companies — Northrop Grumman, HDT Robotics, iRobot Corp. and QinetiQ — demonstrated their abilities to traverse rugged terrain, fire machine guns and take out pop-up targets from a distance of 150 meters. 'They're not just tools, but members of the squad. That's the goal,' said Lt. Col. Willie Smith, chief of Unmanned Ground Vehicles at Fort Benning. For example, the Northrup Grumman's CaMEL (Carry-all Mechanized Equipment Landrover) can run for 24 hours on three-and-a-half gallons of fuel, and can be equipped with a grenade launcher, an automatic weapon and anti-tank missiles. The CaMEL also can identify targets from three-and-a-half kilometers away, using a daylight telescope or thermal imaging. The robots have also demonstrated their ability to be air dropped behind enemy lines or into remote terrain."
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Weaponized Robots Could Take Point In Future Military Ops

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  • by cascadingstylesheet (140919) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @08:35AM (#45113661)
    I for one ... oh forget it.
    • by Wycliffe (116160)

      I keep asking myself how they will prevent them from shooting the wrong person
      and then I'm reminded of the movie "Screamers" and realize that this problem has
      already been solved with "tags". And we think leftover mines are bad. Wait till
      the next major war and 10,000 war robots get dropped over enemy lines that shoot
      anything that moves.

      • Or you know, they run out of fuel after a day and shutdown.

        We've been firing hundreds of autonomous robots to kill things for a long time now - they're called missiles. Sometimes we also drop them, then we call them smart bombs.

      • by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @11:35AM (#45114565)

        I keep asking myself how they will prevent them from shooting the wrong person

        Wrong question. The right question is whether they would be more or less likely to shoot the wrong person than a human soldier would. Many atrocities, such as My Lai [wikipedia.org] and No Gun Ri [wikipedia.org] were committed by soldiers angry over the deaths or maiming of comrades and fearful for their own safety. Since robots don't have emotions, they would not have committed those massacres.

        • by paiute (550198) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @01:21PM (#45115103)

          Since robots don't have emotions, they would not have committed those massacres.

          You mean since they don't have emotions, they won't object to committing massacres.

          • Whoever rules the skies, rules the Battlefield.
            Unfortunately, we haven't got a clone army to counter the threat.

          • by Meeni (1815694)

            I would even add that democracy ends when the army has no remorse shooting its people for unjust reasons. Robots are very obedient.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          The danger is that there will be a technological arms race which is impossible with human soldiers. Unless someone invents a super-soldier serum the training and command techniques for humans will continue to evolve extremely slowly. Code for military robots will evolve comparatively quickly. It will get to a point where a few milliseconds faster reaction decides which machine wins, and that means a few milliseconds less to device if the target is legitimate or not.

      • If you would have watched the attached videoclip, it says that the soldier takes the ultimate decision when to fire.
        • What happens when the other side has autonomous killer robots with faster reactions than our man-controlled robots?
          Will we stick with non-autonomous machines and get our asses handed to us by the other guys?
          Of course not.
      • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @07:58PM (#45117305)

        They're probably just programmed not to shoot white people. Kind of like the police.

      • by delt0r (999393)

        I keep asking myself how they will prevent them from shooting the wrong person..

        Its called a friendly kill, or Frag if you will. Been happening a lot longer than we have had robots.

  • It's time to develop some serious long range, portable EMP capabilities. Otherwise we are in deep doo-doo.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Great for the ones leading the robots, whether it be governments, corporations or lords.
    Crappy for whomever they are sent against as they will not disobey orders.... Whether they be American citizens, homeless people, freedom fighters etc...

    Sorry, but as much as I like the thought of taking people out of harms way, the potential for abuse here far outstrips any gain we could possibly have for it. So long as they know a huge portion of the military will refuse to do some things, it restrains the ones giving

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The necessity to convince to people to go and fight has been a limiting factor in history.

      • by amiga3D (567632)

        This easily solves the problem of the reluctance of soldiers to fire on their own citizenry.

        • by tibman (623933)

          I think it would create a new problem from citizen veterans. But you are right, they would certainly follow orders. Legal or otherwise.

      • by RazorSharp (1418697) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @08:24PM (#45117467)

        The necessity to convince to people to go and fight has been a limiting factor in history.

        This is very true. One pattern that can been seen is that to convince people to fight suicidally in war (i.e., without retreating despite how grim things look -- something that's necessary unless the opponent it completely outmatched) they need to believe it's the right thing to do. This isn't so difficult when fighting defensively against an opponent whose goal is to rape, pillage, and murder. Fighting suicidally against the Vikings, for example, was the only option available.

        It gets a little more difficult when the conquerors only wish to oppress. Then ideals need to be fought for -- "They can take your lives, but they'll never take your freedom!"

        It gets real difficult when you want to take the offensive. That requires some more abstract ideology -- nationalism, religion, or better yet a combination of the two. A good example of this is the power of the Roman army when it consisted of proud Romans who believed they were civilizing the world (they actually kind of were), and the fall of Rome when the armies largely consisted of mercenaries gathered from conquered territories that were far from the capitol. Nationalism at work. The Crusades are another clear example of this -- fight to keep the holy land holy. Religion at work.

        Joan of Arc did both. The Japanese did both in WWII, which was epitomized by their kamikaze attacks. They didn't just fight suicidally -- they fought with suicide.

        Basically, a robot allows one to cut the bullshit and just send it out to kill. We're already doing this with drone attacks. Perhaps these things will help illustrate to people how horribly unethical this is.

  • Implant a small explosive charge and when their regular ammunition is expended, the operator can initiate a 'kamikaze' maneuver. No retreat for robots! They'll gladly die for their makers.
  • by iggymanz (596061) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @08:55AM (#45113733)

    our killing machines already often target innocents, we bomb people who did not attack us, our land mines and cluster bomblets kill innocents years after a conflict over.

  • Resentment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 13, 2013 @09:02AM (#45113745)

    I'm sure that using robots against opponents will in now way build resentment and hatred for the United States, who is more than willing to sacrifice others in their wars, but has no taste for putting their own lives on the line for their beliefs.

    This may win the US battles, but it's going to lose the war on building any sustainable relationships with other cultures.

    • by Frankie70 (803801)

      Why do you think this will not be sold to other cultures also?

    • by prefec2 (875483)

      While you are true in the essence of your conclusion, you are wrong in using the term "war on building any sustainable relationships". First, war is not a very well chosen term in context of relationship or sustainable. For sustainable relationships the US must learn to compromise and cooperate with other. But the whole political system in the US is based on competition of two parties, and the "winner takes it all"-mentality. It has become worse in recent years including the previous Bush administration.

    • Everybody is working on military robots, not just the US.

    • has no taste for putting their own lives on the line
       
      Really? I though that a large majority of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are the US military.

    • by fa2k (881632)

      Isn't that like saying it's more wrong to kill someone with a sniper rifle than to beat them to death with fists

  • These are not what everyone is imagining. The Nazis did this 60 years ago.

    • Not Autonomous

      Not yet.

  • Apparently, someone has not see the "The Terminator" series, "Screamers," etc.
  • It's the future (Score:5, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <.onyxruby. .at. .comcast.net.> on Sunday October 13, 2013 @09:35AM (#45113893)

    It's the future and whining about it is no different than whining about the advent of the rifle or the machine gun or the bow. Your taking the fight away from the human being through a layer of abstraction to keep your soldier alive. The layer of abstraction in this case happens to be a robot, once upon a time it was a gun or a bow.

    The people complaining about this are really no different than the Luddites that think warfare should be conduced hand to hand with swords and maces. They wont be satisfied unless their own soldiers are getting killed on the battlefield too. Technology advances whether you want it to or not. Change and human nature are the only things that stay the same.

    • by ogdenk (712300)

      My problem isn't the fact that they are building killer robots.... it's the fact that the other side doesn't have anything close and these will be used to hit non-military targets and/or populations of civilians in 3rd world countries full of poor dirt farmers that we've pissed off.

      Slaughtering people with machines from thousands of miles away to protect your country's interests with no official declaration of war is a little sick. We'd be killing real people, they'd simply be breaking an expensive toy. D

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by onyxruby (118189)

        Remove the hyberbole from your argument and people are much more likely to take you seriously.

        My problem isn't the fact that they are building killer robots.... it's the fact that the other side doesn't have anything close

        For an example of something where the two sides had something close you need only look at WWI. The two sides had very close capacity, the result was a multiyear quagmire that resulted in the death in tens of millions of people as neither side was able to quickly 'win'. Because it was so dr

        • You are wrong on many points.
          WWII costed roughly 50 million deaths, not a mere few 10 millions.
          The spanish flue costed close to 200 million deaths, not a mere few 10 million.
          The US army bombed civilian centers in korea and vietnam, that is after WWII if I recall corectly.
          Foreign aid of the USA per capita is more or less the same as other civilized nations and far behind scandinavian nations.

          Also keep in mind: which nations get for what project foreign aid? I bet even "schooling" a foreign secret agency fall

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by onyxruby (118189)

            I said WWI, not WW2.

            For an example of something where the two sides had something close you need only look at WWI.

            The death toll of WWI was around 37,000,000 - which sounds a lot like 'tens of millions'. The death toll of the Spanish flu was about 50 million [cdc.gov] (with high estimates of 100 million), which also sounds a lot like 'tens of millions'.

            Foreign aid of the USA per capita is more or less the same as other civilized nations and far behind scandinavian nations.

            There are lies, damn lies and statistics, and

            • Lies?
              Death toll of spanish flue is 180M minimum, read wikipedia.
              Lieas about per capita foreign aid? Germany + france + Uk, the three behind USA in foreign aid, have less the population together the USA have and spends the same amount the USA does, read your own fucking government site.

              Yadda yadda yaddda about your lame excuses now about US bombings in Vietnam and Korea. The USA had nothing to do or seek there, they simply tried again to stay on top of world supremancy. And yes, now you admit they did bombi

            • The inability to target anything near a city was directly inspirational for the development of GPS guided munitions that are in use today.

              Ah, small mistake here. The predecessor to GPS was already in development by the time of the Vietnam war. Vietnam didn't trigger it's development, it simply fast-tracked it.

          • WWII costed roughly 50 million deaths, not a mere few 10 millions.
            The spanish flue costed close to 200 million deaths, not a mere few 10 million.
            The US army bombed civilian centers in korea and vietnam, that is after WWII if I recall corectly.
            Foreign aid of the USA per capita is more or less the same as other civilized nations and far behind scandinavian nations.

            First, he said world war ONE. Second, he said "tens of millions", not "ten of million". Third, the US army bombed civilian "centers" (they're called cities, btw) because bombs of that era were dumb. Once you released them, they fell on a ballistic trajectory... which is why we had to send dozens of bombers out to kill a single strategic target. Yes, today we can put a missile through a window or drop a bomb on a dime. We couldn't back then. Most factories, power generation facilities, and other strategic ta

            • I only misread the point about WWI (where I saw WWII). It would be a shame if the USA would not be the top foreign aid giver: in total.
              However my parent claimed it in a way that suggested all other nations would not care. But regarding per capita or even national gross product, they are not the leader.
              Also he was wrong about the korean and vietnam wars.
              I don't care about the reasons ... but he claimed civilians where not bombed, but in fact they where.

            • WWI had btw roughly 40million deaths.
              While this still is (4) tenth of millions, it is not accurate.
              If an ordinary person says "there are dozens" of it, it means two or three dozens, certainly not 5, so the 4 in this case is remotely in order but a gross simplification (in other words: he had no clue and just throw in a random number).

        • by miletus (552448)
          So in your reality, there were no civilians in Pyongyang and Hanoi? Or World War 2 ended in the 1970s?
      • the other side doesn't have anything close
         
        China doesn't have anything close? Maybe not yet, but surely it will pretty soon, not to mention that they have more military age males than the entire population of the USA. We might need some robots.

    • Re:It's the future (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aaaaaaargh! (1150173) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @10:38AM (#45114257)

      As semi-automatic weapons where the gun is controlled by a human, yes, robots are probably the future of US warfare. The US military and public have always been obsessed with rating the lifes of American soldiers and citizens ten to hundred times higher than that of any other fellow human being on earth, including innocent civilian bystanders.

      As a fully autonomous weapon, I very much doubt these robots will be usable any time in the foreseeable future, though. Reliable friend/foe recognition is a problem that will not be solved anytime soon. I'm not claiming that friendly fire is not a problem among humans, but we allow humans to make more errors than machines. When soldiers are getting shot at by their own automatized war machines, they will accept that less than if one of their fellow humans makes a mistake.

    • by Immerman (2627577)

      This does have one important distinction from previous weapons though - in the past there always had to be men behind the weapons. A bow, a rifle, or an artillery shell make it easier to kill "the enemy", both physically and emotionally, than with a melee weapon that puts you face to face with your opponent, but there is still a person making the decision to fire every single shot. As we move towards autonomous killing machines though that changes. And let's not kid ourselves, whether or not the current

    • by joseph90 (193138)

      It's the future and whining about it is no different than whining about the advent of the rifle or the machine gun or the bow. Your taking the fight away from the human being through a layer of abstraction to keep your soldier alive. The layer of abstraction in this case happens to be a robot, once upon a time it was a gun or a bow.

      The people complaining about this are really no different than the Luddites that think warfare should be conduced hand to hand with swords and maces. They wont be satisfied unless their own soldiers are getting killed on the battlefield too. Technology advances whether you want it to or not. Change and human nature are the only things that stay the same.

      The machine gun was only a good invention if it was not pointing at you. It helped destroy many cultures, enabled genocide in the name of "civilization" and allowed the west (us) to basically steal land and resources from other people - something from which they have not recovered as yet.
      Any technology that tips the balance of power decisively in favour of one group will not stop war, it will ensure war (albeit a quick and bloody one).

      Something that allows one side to fight a war without any cost will, I t

    • by Sir Holo (531007)

      Guns and bows don't target, aim, and fire on people by themselves. These robots do.

      Big difference.

  • I just realized that in some parts of the world, there is a very real threat of being killed by robots.

  • on civilians i hope somebody builds some RFI or EMP weapons to defend against them, i would gladly fry the circuits on robots roaming the streets in my neighborhood
  • Oh yeah someone has to repair them.

  • From the comments, sounds like what everyone wants is for the US to stop developing robotic weapon systems. This will let Iran, North Korea and Taliban to develop these first and then we can play catch up 20 years behind them. Playing catch is so much fun. Weapon development must be a US monopoly ?
    • Taliban developing robots?
      In what dream do you live?

      The Taliban live in the stone age, trading their opium and other resources for first world weapons.

      There is no way they develop anything more sophisticated than a new type of body bomb.

      A robot is not just simply assembled from off the shelf parts (yet) and its control and programming is not something a smart high school kid can do on its own (perhaps access to hughe internet resources might help)

  • Increasing killing efficiency to save lives. The irony is over the top. All sides taken into account, we will not be satisfied as a species until every last human is dead. At least then we will have lasting peace and equality.
    • by dokebi (624663)

      Why are we so obsessed with fighting?

      1. Because we (the US) did not become the dominant country in the world by technology and innovation alone.

      2. Also because we (the human species) did not become the dominant species on the planet by technology and innovation alone.

    • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Sunday October 13, 2013 @11:37AM (#45114581)
      We are "obsessed" with fighting because at its core the human being is an animal. Animals fight for food, for territory, for reproduction. Strip down every conflict in recorded human history and you will find at least one of those elements at it's core. Or, put in other words, resources are and always will be finite. Someone will always have more than someone else, and survival dictates that the only way to get what you need that another has is by coercive force.
      • by wjcofkc (964165)
        What hope do we have then? Clearly some of us are capable of existing outside that. This is a genuine question, not a question as a statement.
        • by Phrogman (80473)

          Those of us who are capable of living outside of the war to control resources, are able to do so because someone else is waging that war for us.

          The coming wars will be not only over hydrocarbons, but over water. Since a large percentage of the world's politicians and industries are hell-bent on ignoring or denying the climate change we see around us, water is going to become a very important resource and a cause for future conflicts - along with food of course since we are denuding the oceans of their life

  • We have a rule in the US that a human must make the final call before delivering any ordinance, be it by soldier, drone, or robot. The problem is that many foreign countries that figure this out won't have this moral impediment. Yes, this is worth worrying about...
    • We have a rule in the US that a human must make the final call before delivering any ordinance, be it by soldier, drone, or robot. The problem is that many foreign countries that figure this out won't have this moral impediment. Yes, this is worth worrying about...

      Having a human making the call is not enough, if take your soldiers out of the battlefield you don't have a reason to use lethal force anymore.
      The use of lethal force in only acceptable because the alternative is that the enemy kills you. But if you deploy a robot, the alternative is that the enemy destroys
      an expensive piece of hardware. You no longer have a valid reason to employ lethal force, once you deploy robots.

      The thing I don't get is why there's all this research into killer robots... They're us

  • Our future wars will resemble StarCraft tournaments

  • by homb (82455)

    They should call them SHIVs and be done with it. That's exactly what the description is about: robots that are part of the squad and act upon orders from the squad leader.

  • Storytime!

    My friend was at his friend's house back in 1990, when their dad came home. My friend noticed something on his tie, and it was a microchip. My friend was-and still is-really into computers, so he asked about it. The gentleman explained that it was a 250 megabyte memory chip.

    Once again, a 250 megabyte chip, back in 1990.

    He explained that they had a failure rate of 90%, and that most of them were simply blowing up the moment they were powered up. And indeed, the one on his tie had a small burn h

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