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Robotics United States

Military Robots Get Machine Guns 665

Posted by samzenpus
from the remote-war dept.
javaxman writes "Next spring, the U.S. military is expecting to deploy Talon robots with machine guns. They can also be equiped with rocket launchers. Really, they're remote-controlled 'bots, not true autonomous 'bots, so you can save the Skynet jokes for, um, some day in the not-to-distant future. This is just the first, or maybe second step. As for me, I just want to see arena matches between gangs of these suckers. Robot wars indeed!"
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Military Robots Get Machine Guns

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  • frickin (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:06PM (#10970641)
    Post this again when they graduate to frickin lasers.
  • Captured robots (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fembots (753724) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:08PM (#10970650) Homepage
    Can these robots be captured and reconfigured to turn against its ex-master, or do they have self-destruction function?

    This reminds me of an old Canon printer advertisement, where the Martians use this bubblejet printer to print realistic Mars landscape photos and place them in front of the Mars probe's visual sensor.
    • Re:Captured robots (Score:5, Informative)

      by PeterPumpkin (777678) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:24PM (#10970791) Journal
      These are controlled by people, so unless an enemy whacked the soldier and took his joystick away, this shouldn't be a problem.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:33PM (#10970864)
        As long as they remember to enable the WEP security.
      • Re:Captured robots (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Hobadee (787558) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:26AM (#10971224) Homepage Journal
        Comon, all of us here at Slashdot should know this. Rule #1 of hacking: He who has access to the physical device, controls the device. It would be all too easy to crack the case of one of these things and change the crystal so that instead of running off of who-knows-what frequency it's now controlled with a 72MHz RC controller! Personally, I don't want these things going into battle for us. We're gonna spend billions on these things and some kid somewhere is gonna come up with an 80 cent way to turn it against us. (Think along the lines of "drawing a circle around the circumference with a pernament marker".)
        • Re:Captured robots (Score:5, Insightful)

          by susano_otter (123650) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @03:49AM (#10972198) Homepage
          I imagine this thing is going to be extremely tactical. It's not going to be a regular grunt, slogging across the battlefield. It's going to be used in close-quarters urban combat, supervised by squads of Marines or Rangers at close range. You're not going to see a lot of these things get scooped up for the same reason you don't see a lot of soldiers get kidnapped during a firefight. I think for the most part, you're going to see it used in variations of the Talon's current role: bomb disposal. It's going to be the point man on a forced entry mission. The building is already surrounded, where would the bot-napper run to? It's going to take the lead whenever biological or chemical agents have been used. Probably easier to steal one from the storage facility, stateside. Hell, the core components are already easily available on the open market, why would a droid thief want to go to the trouble of snatching one out from under the noses of some very attentive soldiers? I mean, it's just a machine. The minute shenanigans are perpetrated, there'd be no reason not to shell the entire grid. A stolen or turned bot would be a big neon sign saying "cluster bomb here, please". No, I think people will want to stay very far away from these guys. And we haven't even gotten to the part where they're armed with deadly weapons.
  • A trend (Score:5, Funny)

    by DrLZRDMN (728996) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:08PM (#10970651)
    Didn't they get shotguns about a month ago? From what I can tell they'll have rocket launchers by the begining of next year.
    • Re:A trend (Score:5, Funny)

      by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:11PM (#10970676)
      Didn't they get shotguns about a month ago? From what I can tell they'll have rocket launchers by the begining of next year.

      I just hope they don't get Quad Damage.
    • Re:A trend (Score:5, Funny)

      by a1cypher (619776) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:13PM (#10970698) Homepage
      What if we gave them a whole variety of weapons that could be rotated through. Such as a hand gun, machine gun, gatling gun, rocket launcher, shotgun, etc...

      Then we could interface the machine with an FPS game and let people select weapons with the mouse scroll wheel.. And it can pick up any munitions, "health packs" or "armor shards" that it happens to "find" and maybe even throw grenades..

      hrm.... And then you could get a whole bunch of them and stick them in one location, "map" if you will where they can duke and nuke it out forever.

      oh wait...
      • Re:A trend (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Gromius (677157)
        hmm, perhaps another explaination for America's Army, its not a recruting tool its a training tool. And to think I once pointed out to an enthusiasic friend that joining the army for real would probably require more that leet mousing skillz. Boy is my face red...
  • What about ethics? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SlashdotMirrorer (669639) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:09PM (#10970661)

    Whatever happened to Asimov's rules of robots that they can do no harm to humans? For years, bearded terminal hackers have done their thing, hacking on software, hardware, and such, with little regard to the ethics of the situation. But now, with our creations affecting mankind in a more profound way, we give little more thought to ethics than we did with a simple BASIC shell script.

    Think about this the next time you are coding a servo controller on your Redhat compiler. Could your code be misused in a way you would not approve?

    • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:16PM (#10970724)
      Whatever happened to Asimov's rules
      The Rules don't apply when you've got $400 billion of funding. No rules apply!
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:28PM (#10970830) Journal

      Think about this the next time you are coding a servo controller on your Redhat compiler. Could your code be misused in a way you would not approve?

      Y'know, I hear this kind of question a lot. I work for a defense contractor. When I'm explaining my work to people, invariably the question of "don't you worry that your work will be used in some future war that you don't approve of?" No, actually, I don't and the reason isn't that I approve of all (or even most) of the military actions that my country is involved in. Part of it is a bit of short-sightedness on my part. I work on very "research-y" topics: data fusion, sensor resource management, and other stuff that isn't gonna get implemented until 2015 at the very earliest. Part of it is that I think war is a necessary part of humanity. I wish it weren't but a simple examination of the human brain reveals that the "R-complex" (aka reptilian brain) is present in every person. I have learned to use my other brain portions to control my aggresive tendancies but there are lots of people who will never master that trick.

      But I think the main reason why I don't lie awake at night worrying that the results of my efforts might make the world a worse place is the same reason why parents don't usually lie awake worrying that their kids are going to turn out to cause more harm to society than benefit. I don't have kids but I'm thinking that if I did, I probably wouldn't spend too much time worrying that my kid is gonna become the next Kenneth Lay and be the cause of a great deal of suffering. I would probably think that my kid is more likely to be a benefit to society or I'd just be enjoying the process of raising my kid and not get all worried about how he's going to turn out.

      I don't see any reason why one should assume that the products of their efforts will only be used for applications that they 100% agree with. Really, I think that's terribly naive. Do sheetmetal workers lie awake at night worrying that the steel they cast that day might be used in the casing for a bomb?

      GMD

      • Do sheetmetal workers lie awake at night worrying that the steel they cast that day might be used in the casing for a bomb?

        If we worried more about the consequences of our actions, we would probably all be better off.

      • by JudgeFurious (455868) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @01:20AM (#10971628)
        Well thanks for keeping me up the rest of the night you insensitive clod!

        It just so happens that I AM A SHEETMETAL WORKER!
      • by triznitch (178077) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @04:03AM (#10972241)
        I really don't get how you can justify work for a defense contractor because "war is necessary" when one of the main reasons war happens so often is because defense contractors can profit off of it. Whether or not war is necessary will be debated for quite some time, however in the mean time, does it not irk you in the slightest that the work you are doing may very well lead to the killing of another human being (probably a civilian)?

        Even with the necessity argument, one of the main reasons that war is accepted as necessary by the general masses is because we value our lives over the lives of others. We constantly demonize the actions of nazi soldiers because they were killing innocent people, but how often does the mainstream criticize the US for Hiroshima? If we are going to look at war, I think that it's important to put the human being back into the equation. With technology increasing its presence on the battlefield, we can look more and more casualties for the "enemy" and less and less for us. This will further push the disconnect between the idea of war and the reality of war.
        • ...one of the main reasons war happens so often is because defense contractors can profit off of it.

          Please give even one example of a war happening primarily because of defense contractors being able to profit off of it. I can't think of a single instance myself.

          We constantly demonize the actions of nazi soldiers because they were killing innocent people, but how often does the mainstream criticize the US for Hiroshima?

          While the actions of Nazis are constantly (and rightly, IMNSHO) demonized, most docum

      • by c0p0n (770852) <copong@gmailOPENBSD.com minus bsd> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @04:22AM (#10972297)
        ..., I don't and the reason isn't that I approve of all (or even most) of the military actions that my country is involved in...

        Nope, the reason is that warfare fills your mouth with food and your pockets with money. The rest of your comment is mostly trying justify yourself that you're a great guy and you're doing things necessary for the humanity.

        If you work for a company that sells weapons, your inventions will be used to kill. It's that simple. Nobody wastes loads of money just to not use what they bought.

        ...Do sheetmetal workers lie awake at night worrying that the steel they cast that day might be used in the casing for a bomb?...

        That is a fallacy. You should blame also the farmers for selling you food to keep your brain functioning... you're designing directly weapons, or support devices for ppl that carry weapons to kill. Period.
        • by garver (30881) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @09:21AM (#10973284)

          If you work for a company that sells weapons, your inventions will be used to kill.

          Or defend. It's not really that simple. If we hadn't developed sonar and depth charges, Germany would have ruled the atlantic indefinitely. If we hadn't developed superior aircraft, they would have ruled the skies. If Britain hadn't developed radar, many, many more of their civilians would have died. As long as bad people exist, we need to develop weapons for defense.

          you're designing directly weapons, or support devices for ppl that carry weapons to kill

          Uh, no. The poster said he's doing research for a defense company. Stuff that may be used for defense, but may also be used for some cool domestic application, like, you know the INTERNET!

          Every bit of technology ever developed has at sometime has been applied to the practice of killing people, whether directly or indirectly. Following the sheetmetal example, don't you think the first army to use body armor, shields, and swords had a decisive advantage? Should the scientists and blacksmiths at that time have gone on strike, skipped that overrated "progress" thing, and let themselves be conquered and killed by the barbarians?

    • by Feanturi (99866)
      But robots aren't harming humans. Humans are harming humans (and doing other more useful jobs like disposing of dangerous crap) by remote control, using a tool specialized for the job. This is not what Asimov had in mind.
    • Well you'd better not sharpen a pencil, because I wouldn't hesitate to jab it in someone's eye, if the circumstances warranted it.

      Just think of these robots doing really dangerous things - going down terrorist booby-trapped tunnels and the like.

      Or would you feel better just sending human fodder into such situations?

      If you think wars suck, then you should like modern high-tech wars. War still sucks, but far fewer people get killed doing it.

      Hmmm is that a good thing? On balance, I think so.

    • by j.leidner (642936)
      Could your code be misused in a way you would not approve?

      GNU should append a clause to their licenses that military use is prohibited so that nobody can get harmed by Free code.

  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Korgrath (714211)
    finally! a way to get rid of Trolls without having to smell them!
  • by omghi2u (808195) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:09PM (#10970664) Journal
    Johnny Five ... ALIVE!

    Need I say more?
  • Great (Score:5, Funny)

    by Turn-X Alphonse (789240) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:11PM (#10970674) Journal
    Military people were complaining gamers make crap soldiers... now we'll own them at robot wars and laugh at how they mocked us for playing space invaders!
  • Lemming? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dev_alac (536560) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:11PM (#10970685)
    Did anyone else notice the page file was lemming.htm?
  • not really new (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cyrax777 (633996)
    police departments have been using shotgun armered robots for a while to shoot bombs and stuff via remote.
  • I think that these robots would be much better fund-raising machines than killing machines. Think about these robots on Battle Bots. I think this could get the show back on the air. Then, the DoD could use the winnings to reduce the tax burden of defense spending.

    Maybe not.
  • M249 (Score:5, Informative)

    by NEOtaku17 (679902) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:13PM (#10970700) Homepage

    The weapons these things are carrying are the M249 SAW. They are chambered in the 5.56mm NATO round spec and carry a 200 round box which it feeds from, but it can also use the regular 30 round magazines that the M-16 uses. The gun was developed in the 70s and has been used by the US, UK, and Isreali forces. Although the original ones could accept the M-16 magazines the latest Mk.46 mod.0 version doesn't include this option as to save weight on an already hefty 6.8 kg gun.

  • Not so bad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zors (665805)
    I used to think that these things were unfair and that US (or the west in general) soldiers shouldn't be so out of risk or as powerful. Then i realized, fuck that. What war does to a soldier, i cannot completely comprehend. But i can comprehend it enough to say that any tech that means fewer soldiers have to die, that its a good thing.
    • Re:Not so bad... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Grey Tomorrow (722221) <GreySkiesBlueNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:25PM (#10970803)
      I think you are missing the point that only fewer soldiers on OUR SIDE die. The casulaties on the other will make up for the discrepancy.
    • Re:Not so bad... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rude Turnip (49495)
      "...any tech that means fewer soldiers have to die..."

      Fewer of ours, more of theirs...OOH RAH!
    • Re:Not so bad... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by back_pages (600753) <.back_pages. .at. .cox.net.> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:34PM (#10970877) Journal
      I used to think that these things were unfair and that US (or the west in general) soldiers shouldn't be so out of risk or as powerful. Then i realized, fuck that. What war does to a soldier, i cannot completely comprehend. But i can comprehend it enough to say that any tech that means fewer soldiers have to die, that its a good thing.

      Another angle on this is that mutually assured destruction through nuclear weapons was enough intimidation that it prevented nuclear war. In a similar fashion, fighting a war where your side suffers human losses while the enemy loses robots would be a humiliating, demoralizing experience - perhaps to an extent that fighting against such a miliatary would be a lost cause before the first round is fired.

      There are pros and cons to that - it could be a very real deterrent to warfare, but it could just as easily alienate and silence people with a just cause for fighting. I doubt those people would shrug their shoulders and go home - they'd probably settle for guerilla warfare amongst the civilian population where an armed robot isn't a feasible option. Hm, not a far cry from terrorism.

      I'm seriously not a hippy but the prevalence of "insurgent" style warfare these days is starting to convince me that war really isn't the answer - not because war is unhappy or unpleasant, but because people who are motivated enough to fight a war will express themselves despite being outright defeated in a war. If they want to kill, they'll kill regardless of your tanks or soldiers or barricades or armed robots. It's just too bad that nobody tosses tea into the harbor anymore.

      • or something
      • they'd probably settle for guerilla warfare amongst the civilian population where an armed robot isn't a feasible option. Hm, not a far cry from terrorism.

        Yeah, exactly.

        People fight when they 1) have a grudge, 2) are poor 3) feel they're being taked advantage of 4) are scared or 5) are disenfranchised and feel they don't have a say in their own future.

        How they fight depends on their circumstances. If they're wealthy, they use technology at arm's length and/or send other people (usually their own poor)
  • Human oversight (Score:5, Interesting)

    by grunt547 (836363) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:15PM (#10970721)
    From the article:
    "Driving, observing and shooting are always done with a man in the loop," the Foster-Miller spokesman said. "The labs like autonomy, but the users themselves always like to have control."
    It's really not too shocking to think about a computer in charge of deadly force. Sure, think about Arnold in Terminator, but this is not a new idea. We've put computers in charge of our weapons systems for years. Back in the days when strategic bombers with nuclear weapons were our primary deterrent, the computer (such as it existed in the 50s and 60s) was in charge of dropping the bombs. This was even more common on conventional platforms, where accuracy actually mattered. The computer can figure out where the best place to pickle off the bomb is, and all the pilot does is flip a consent switch that actually allows the plane to release a weapon. All the pilot knew was that the bomb would release at some point. This system offers a lot more control to the human operator, who I guess will be playing an FPS in real-life.
  • Wrote some wicked dystopian SF with these things. It was around 1968. The only difference between then and now is that armed RPVs exist today.

    I wonder if they will use a race or religion - based FoF discrimination system? Shoot the brown people or, shoot the non Christian?

    http://www.keithlaumer.com/ [keithlaumer.com]
  • by ca1v1n (135902) <snook@guYEATSanotronic.com minus poet> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:19PM (#10970756)
    The Patriot Missile system fires with no human intervention. It uses an Identification Friend-or-Foe system to track everything in the air, and shoot down anything that shouldn't be there. During the recent Iraq invasion, a glitch in this system caused it to fire upon a British fighter jet, destroying it and killing its pilot. It was about to do the same to a US jet, but that jet was armed with fast-flying radar-seeking missiles designed to take out hostile SAM sites, and was able to take out the radar component of the Patriot system before the missile reached his plane. Notably no one was injured on the ground when he did this, since there was nobody actually sitting in front of the device, or anywhere near it.

    I think it'll be a long time before autonomously firing ground systems are in place, because it's hard enough doing IFF in the sky, let alone on the ground. I think the fire-finder system (used in the Balkans to take out mortar positions in the mountains firing upon cities) might do this in some limited capacity, but that's only anti-artillery, rather than telling the difference between a guerilla carrying an RPG and a farmer carrying a section of irrigation pipe. Sure, you could wait until they shoot first for all of these systems, since that's a lot easier to determine automatically, but I think it's quite obvious that waiting for the other guy to shoot first is very far from the policy of the current administration.
  • Mirrordot Link (Score:2, Informative)

    by b0lt (729408)
    here [mirrordot.org]
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:23PM (#10970786)
    Heh, now I can see how USA of the future is going to run the world. A bunch of armed robots rolling around the middle east bringing freedom to every man, woman, and child while obese American schoolchildren hold the remote linked gamepads in their greasy palms, with attention divided between American Idol and a Kraft "cheese" commercial.
  • I don't see how the cameras in this thing will have enough resolution to do proper ID of friend vs. foe. Man-in-the-loop is not going to work well without some pretty intensive HDTV or better cameras. Perhaps a foveal vision system slaved to the operator's eyeball might be adequate, but I still suspect that troops will shoot first at the grainy pictures and ask questions later.
  • by emtboy9 (99534) <jeff@jefflane . o rg> on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:28PM (#10970826) Homepage
    Oddly enough, one of my favorite, and IMO the best, episodes of SeaQuest DSV is the episode where the crew is wisked into a future where wars are fought by armies of giant armed combat robots, which are remote controlled by children, who think that they are actually playing a total imersion video game.

    With the advances in VR and forms of total control of remote devices and such based on muscle movement and in some cases even brain wave activity, how far away are we from a time when anyone with a joystick can command a combat robot?

    It really reminds me a lot of Largo from MegaTokyo and his army of Ph34rbots.. but on a serious note, however, I really do wonder. It would seem that, while these types of things are great in that they save lives ultimately, at the same time, they could ultimately be a supreme form of evil.

    Even though bad things DO happen in any armed conflict, at least in this case, fields of robots battling it out, even if they are merely remote controlled, will keep real people from dying needlesly. However, again, how long before someone figures out how to gain control of these things and turn them against civilian populations, villages, cities, etc.

    On a side note, what I really find funny is that, traditionally, the military is the last major area of manual labor that has NOT been severly affected by technology (in the sense of robots replacing workers as they have in manufacturing and other areas) and now, there exists a real possibility of the military being downsized due to robots replacing soldiers. Maybe the Teamsters can organize the military!
  • by gilroy (155262) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:30PM (#10970840) Homepage Journal
    ... but ED 209.

    Now put down that weapon. You have 30 seconds to comply. :)
  • Damnit (Score:3, Funny)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:31PM (#10970853) Homepage Journal
    They can make gun wielding robots, but they cannot make me a Tom Servo to watch movies with me and wisecrack. I tell ya, what is technology good for?
    (Sorry, saw the "In the not too distant future" quote in the article, brought up some fond memories)
  • I'm not someone who is pro-military, however I do think that our military shouldn't be so dependent on technology. We have lots of skilled soldiers, but let's be realistic - the proof is in the pudding, if our soldiers are losing against an enemy that doesn't have all those fancy toys, then the fancy toys probably aren't as useful as we think (drone planes etc.). With the huge defence budget, a lot of companies are just dying to get a piece of the pie with their own piece of ultra technology... but real sol
  • Can't sleep, robots have guns.
    Can't sleep, robots have guns.

    Oh, and in Korea, only old robots have guns.
  • These will be truely accepted in our society, the first time that they are used to hold up a bank or a 7-11.
  • by intnsred (199771) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:36PM (#10970904) Homepage
    This has to be the Pentagon's dream come true: a remote controlled war.

    Now the US can slaughter people in developing countries without the fear that some of our own soldiers -- fighting for "freedom", of course -- will be killed or injured. I suspect we'll see the number of "Operation Freedoms" increase dramatically.

    How come I don't think this is progress?
  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:37PM (#10970913) Homepage
    Before I thought about any of the ramifications of this, I thought to myself "I think war games are about to get really, really cool."

    Now about the ramifications... I'm starting to think that it's only a matter of time before some mad genius combines one of these with the robotic toilet and mankind is doomed.

  • by Lord Ender (156273) on Wednesday December 01, 2004 @11:40PM (#10970928) Homepage
    One of my coworkers is a military man. He says there will always be need for a human with a gun to be on the ground in war.

    But if you have a soldier controlling a robot with a gun, he can literally have eyes in the back of his head. The thing could have cammeras on all sides. His hands would be perfectly steady. He could be simultaneously seeing infra red, heat vision, and what ever other kind of cammera they have mounted on it buy looking at multiple monitors. And think if the great help in communication. You could just yell "he's around the corner" to the other controller right next to you, like at a LAN party. No hand signals or radios needed. You could have a speaker mounted on it for ording civilians around.

    Soon we will be fighting zero casualty (on our side) battles. That is, until someone develops the perfect jammer and sells it widely.
  • Sadly though, this news will not help those caught in the backdoor draft here in the US -- not in the near future.

  • Word has it the Pentagon has decided to send them on an autonomous mission to liquidate those responsible for triple dupes on /.
  • by CapnRob (137862) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @12:34AM (#10971293)
    ...which means that it's only a matter of time before the U.S. Army deploys Steve Gutenberg in battle, which is a clear violation of the Geneva Convention.
  • by samantha (68231) * on Thursday December 02, 2004 @01:27AM (#10971653) Homepage
    According to an article in Technology Review last month our troops in Iraq often find their comm isn't too great on the frontlines for much more than sporadic email at the best. Imagine the equivalent or worse comm problems with these remote controlled robots engaged in live fire. A couple of bucks worth of nasty kidstuff electronics overcomes millions in robot devices. Sounds like another winner from those folks who cornered the market on $400 hammers.

    I wish the boys would grow up a bit or at least make toys that friggin are useable.
  • by piotrr (101798) <piotrr@swip n e t .se> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @04:17AM (#10972286) Homepage
    So.. these drones will be remote controlled? Yes, I read the thread, bear with me. They are going to save on "OUR" human casualties, by killing more of the enemy via a remote link to an actual soldier controlling these mechanoid suckers. Instead of losing lives, "we" will only lose millions of items of immense monetary value, which still is considered the smaller loss. Of course a surviving fighter pilot gets one hell of a scolding if the plane gets lost, but it's basically the same thing here: If you have more tech than soldiers, it's a good thing to empower every soldier with more tech than he or she is worth, so to speak.

    Now, what is the interface going to look like? I am assuming a live-feed, encrypted, RF signal with video and audio and not some command line interface thing because we don't have that kind of autonomy in AI yet... unless you count my industry. I am not in defense works, I am a game designer. We have AI that could do the job. Sure, the bots would freeze up for seconds at a time trying to convert the terrain into a pathmap grid, and it will get stuck in odd loops between rocks and hard places, but my point is that some degree of autonomy is possible if the operator is taking a piss or getting another jolt, pizza, mountain dew, what have you.

    And so, what interface will the "mechanized infantry" be using against its operator? One 'bot per remote operator "Operation Flashpoint" style (or "Mechwarrior" / "Starsiege" style?) or two to four 'bots per operator, "Hidden & Dangerous"-style or maybe even eight ("Full Spectrum Warrior") or 60 ("Ground Control") 'bots for every operator?

    Especially if bots feature some kind of learning, remembering last used commands, path maps, all of these alternatives are more or less feasible. I actually think the "Quake 3" or "OFP" approach is the least appropriate because a bot can be destroyed, chaffed, EMP'd, taken out of range, fall down a hole, lose the connection or start dropping packages like crazy. Controlling a bot lagging over radio with a jerky video feed is not a first person shooter experience you would want to participate in, not even for fun, and especially not when you are sitting in a command bunker undefended save for those ABC mechanoids.

    Instead, imagine a setup where each operator shares his or her attention between members of a squad of four or five 'bots. Equip the 'bots with a few different pieces of equipment while they're awaiting deployment, maybe tweak one of them for speed and recon, another for damage soak and a third with a long-range weapon, and so on. Now, keep in mind that a video feed is possible but not speedy enough to make instant point-and-click orders. Thunderstorms, sandstorms, building occluding the signal and so forth will make that much too unreliable. Instead, the operator gives move orders to the 'bots, identifies targets, marks them on the IFF using bandboxing or clicking, the bot remembers distingishing features and asks for confirmation when a takedown is possible.

    The only thing the USA has to worry about now is Korea. No matter how smart US operators become, how streamlined their interface or how autonomous their remote controlled heavy weapons platforms, they will remain unable to stop the Zerg rush, kekekekeke.
  • by theolein (316044) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @07:39AM (#10972884) Journal
    It's not guns that kill people, it's robots.
  • by The One and Only (691315) <[ten.hclewlihp] [ta] [lihp]> on Thursday December 02, 2004 @10:58AM (#10974101) Homepage
    The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
    -- Military school Commandant's graduation address, "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson"
  • by freality (324306) on Thursday December 02, 2004 @11:28AM (#10974462) Homepage Journal
    And look at the other robotics story on the front page:

    "AFP is reporting that, starting today, "Japan's growing elderly population will be able to buy companionship in the form of a 45-centimeter (18-inch) robot" designed to help them avoid senility. The robot, named Snuggling Ifbot and developed by Dream Supply, will be able to respond to verbal commands. "If a person tells Snuggling Ifbot, "I'm bored today," the robot might respond, "Are you bored? What do you want to do?"". It retails for 576,000 yen (5,600 dollars) and there is no English version currently available but "its makers plan to program the robot in English -- not for export, but to teach the language to Japanese children.""

    Reminds me how Japan's largest computer is used to model weather and the earth, and our largest computers are used to model nuclear explosions.

    Well, I guess that's the difference between the conquered and the conqueror. If we conquer the world does that make every country more sane than us?

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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