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The Military Government

The Brief Rise and Long Fall of Russia's Robot Tank 79

malachiorion writes with this report from Popular Science"Seventy-four years ago, Russia accomplished what no country had before, or has since: it sent armed ground robots into battle. These remote-controlled Teletanks took the field during one of WWII's earliest and most obscure clashes, as Soviet forces pushed into Eastern Finland for roughly three and a half months, from 1939 to 1940. The workings of those Teletanks were cool, though they were useless against Germany, and Russia proceeded to fall behind the developed world in military robotics."
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The Brief Rise and Long Fall of Russia's Robot Tank

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  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:13PM (#46436997) Journal
    Tanks, er, ah... I got nuthin...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:17PM (#46437013)

    By no means not quickly followed. In 1942, the Germany military fielded the Goliath tracked mine (basically a remote controlled bomb on treads.)

    Military robotics is by no means new, its just that brutal battlefield conditions meant that the military shelved it knowing that it would be a VERY long time before it ever became battlefield useful (in spite of UAVs, we're still a long ways off from robotic tanks)

    • This is it exactly. Up until the 1990's we really didn't have bandwidth and control systems that could really do something like drive a tank remotely.

      Look at it this way up the until the 1980's In order to course correct a missile or torpedo after it had fired that weapon had to trail a wire all the way behind.

      Digital remote control took a long time coming, only in the last 20 years has it taken off. Still there is not enough battlefield bandwidth for a column of tanks to be remotely operated and be effecti

      • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Sunday March 09, 2014 @01:51AM (#46438029) Journal

        There is enough bandwidth, our control systems are still a bit off though. We use laser communications in some situations and radio in others but tanks have since the 90's been able to communicate and coordinate their weapons systems for a while now. This makes them more effective in picking targets so 4 out of 5 tanks aren't shooting the same target and invalid targets can be eliminated before a shot is fired.

        The biggest problem is the automation of the drive units. We can't seem to get a real time terrain picture in a way that the tanks can auto pilot around on or relay to an operator. This is an enormous task compared to flying a drone that doesn't have to deal with obstacles in or on the ground that can change in a matter of seconds in a combat situation.

        Of course that is changing a bit with work done by DARPA and their autonomous challenges but as of now, it makes them a sitting duck to often trying to negotiate terrain. But the weapons systems have had the bandwidth for a while now and can pretty much pick the target, aim and fire while moving at great speeds with little assistance from a human. It's quite amazing really.

        • (Apache) AH64D, millimeter wave radar, radar hellfires and preferential fire zones. Ouch. Each missile is like a little robot. Drag a rubberband around clusters of targets on the display, unleash several missiles, each missile finds a target and boom, next missile, next target. That was so cool.

          ('Janes Longbow' was a way cool game yay)

          I always wondered why my mechs didn't have these missiles :( (in the Mech warrior games).

    • I probably should have clarified, but if you read the piece, I was talking about armed the unprecedented—and still unique—use armed UGVs, like ground bots with guns. No one else has done that. The Goliath, on other hand, was a rolling bomb. You could call that an armed UGV, but, to me, that's like calling a Tomahawk an armed UAV.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:26PM (#46437051)

    "Exterminatesky! Exterminatesky!"?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Voisiko joku ystävällisesti kutsua Tohtorin?", the Finns lamented, watching the tanks rolling in the snow and occasionally colliding with the pines.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Daleks aren't robots.

    • "Remember, you must think in Russian..."
  • Runner up? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cold fjord ( 826450 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:32PM (#46437081)
    • An interesting bit of synchronicity here. If you go to the link above you'll see this as to where the Goliath was used:

      First Battle: Sevastopol

      Sevastopol is in Crimea, Ukraine, where Russian troops have recently moved in as they did in Finland. In both cases, Finland and Ukraine, the Russians (nee Soviets) said they were there to fight fascism. That would be so much more convincing if they didn't have this going on:

      Russia: Far-Right Nationalists And Neo-Nazis March In Moscow []

      I doubt that the Ukrainians w

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        If I remember what I read somewhere, the Russian/Soviet side lost something like 2500 tanks in the Winter War, mainly due to the Finns figuring out how to interfere with the treads to immobilize the tanks before setting them on fire...

        A tank without a crew would go a long way in explaining how that happened, as there wouldn't be personnel to see the attack on the tank or to repel it while clearing whatever was used to jam the treads.

        As a side note, that war explains why Biathlon is so culturally signi
        • by tragedy ( 27079 )

          As a side note, that war explains why Biathlon is so culturally significant to the Scandinavian countries...

          No kidding. That's the war in which the White Death, Simo Hayha [] was personally responsible for around .4% of Soviet deaths through his skill as a marksman and outdoorsman.

        • As a side note, that war explains why Biathlon is so culturally significant to the Scandinavian countries...

          Well, I am Finnish and I'd like to point out that the Winter War is historically and culturally very much specifically a Finnish thing. The Scandinavians (Nordic countries west of Finland) had nothing to do with it, they don't consider it "their" war and they do not remember it as a substantial part of their history. The cultural image of "skiing and shooting" is equally as much Finnish.

          • by TWX ( 665546 )
            Ah. My apologies, I assumed that the Scandinavian label applied to the Finnish.
            • It's a somewhat vague label; even some Finns who have a very "Nordist" political inclination insist that we should be called "Scandinavian" even though even the Scandinavians themselves have never done that. The more appropriate geopolitical term is "Nordic".

              But, as we might share a lot historically and culturally, the Winter War we definitely don't :-)

      • While I'm not disputing Russia should do more against its violent domestic extreme right wing fringes, nor that Putin and his cronies would think twice about cynically overstating the fascist element active in Ukraine in support of their own despicable handling of this affair, nor that Yanukovitch and his pals were highly corrupt and sycophantic toward Russia...

        But that does not change the fact that far right hooligans did, as a matter of fact, make up a considerable part of the "revolutionary" forces on th

        • If the Ukrainians were intending to massacre the Russians, they'd have done it straight away before the Russians got their goons in. They didn't.

          Russia is secretly attempting to provoke what it's publicly claiming to prevent.

  • by dov_0 ( 1438253 ) on Saturday March 08, 2014 @08:51PM (#46437127)
    Couldn't find the story the article originally linked to, but here's the wikipedia article on the teletanks. []
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      Give popular science a big miss, they are weird ass copyright freaks, articles not available in other countries, articles deleted at random intervals etc. Just give them a big miss and go somewhere else and never ever link to them, really rather pointless to attempt to do so.

      • by dov_0 ( 1438253 )

        Give popular science a big miss, they are weird ass copyright freaks, articles not available in other countries, articles deleted at random intervals etc. Just give them a big miss and go somewhere else and never ever link to them, really rather pointless to attempt to do so.

        The link was pop-sci Australia. I'm in Australia, can read all the other articles, but it says that one isn't there. Strange. It was however while reading my first article on the main page that I realised that I didn't want to bother with any more...

    • The linked article is still there.

    • Okay, here's a link to the blog [] cited by the PopSci article. The blog appears to contradict the summary that the Russians were alone in developing these primitive robotanks:

      There were similarly designed tanks also in the German army. There was the teletank V-4, there were small anti-tank “torpedoes” such as the radio-guided “Springer” and the “Goliath”, which would unwind an electrical control lead behind itself. A “Goliath” is found in the armoured vehicle mu

      • I mentioned this in another response, but I don't necessarily think the Goliath is in the same league as the Teletank, as far as gun-toting ground bots go. I should have specified that, though, in the piece.
  • Robot? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 08, 2014 @09:05PM (#46437171)
    It was remote controlled. The V1 and V2 are much closer to a "robot" in the sense of a self-guided machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Google is spending billions attempting to build autonomous robotic tanks for America's future wars of aggression. Google's 'pitch' when meeting generals, senior politicians and other significant figures in the West is "what would allow the US to choose to take out Iran TODAY".

    Before US drones were commonly used to slaughter every Muslim attending some funeral in the Middle East, US movies depicted exactly the same scenes. Tom Clancy would specifically include events and ideas in his ultra right wing masturb

    • by WarJolt ( 990309 )

      The owners of Slashdot have been previously grooming you by constantly promoting the nonsense of 'self-driving' cars - the first stage of Google propaganda to prepare the way for their robotic killing machines. The self-driving algorithms, while utterly useless for a vehicle that could tolerate not even one mistake, are perfect for robot tanks that can crush and slaughter a bus full of the 'other' without a murmur of complaint from the sheeple of the USA. By self-driving, the LAST thing Google means is 'safe' for civilians.

      Tin foil hats are pretty fashionable, eh?

      Car companies are investing millions in this stuff.
      Without the DARPA we wouldn't have ARPANET, the precursor to the internet.
      Of course this technology is going to emerge out of defense research, but it doesn't mean it won't be used for automobiles.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Robots to replace troops. Two big problems with people as soldiers, most of them don't want to kill people and avoid it even when commanded to do so, especially unarmed people. Those all to happy to pull the trigger quite often end up pulling the trigger when they aren't order to do so or at inappropriate targets. Training can exacerbate the problem especially when you fail to promote honour and integrity, then killing becomes all too much fun especially when you start enrolling all to inappropriate narcis

        • you are far more likely to end up with narcissists and psychopaths at the controls.

          It'll be damned quiet round here if that ever happens.

  • A cruel and useless Soviet WW2 tactic: []

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      A few Russians that got promoted under Stalin spent a bit of time in exile in Australia and would have come across this story:

      However it's not unexpected from the sort of regime that drew inspiration from the defeat of the Tutonic Knights on a frozen river by sending in swarms of poorly armed peasants until the ice broke.
  • But according to future history the first robot tanks were Bolos made by General Motors. The Russians have screwed up another timeline. (Dang Putin)
    • Somehow I doubt that the T-26 Teletank was self aware.

  • This brings to mind Steve Jackson's Ogre game [], where a huge robotic tank was pitted against forces of conventional tanks and weapons.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky