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Robotics Science

Street Fighting Robot Challenge 180

Posted by samzenpus
from the gun-jack dept.
ianchaos writes "There's no better way to assure the eventual destruction of mankind than by the event sponsored by Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency. Newscientist has a good writeup of the robot challenge, which is to build a robot that can operate autonomously in urban warfare conditions, moving in and out of buildings to search and destroy targets like a human soldier."
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Street Fighting Robot Challenge

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  • DARPA Worldwide? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gbulmash (688770) * <semi_famous@yah o o . com> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @12:46AM (#17747864) Homepage Journal
    Sounds like the DARPA Challenge [wikipedia.org], but more violent. Cool! I'm all for anything that advances us toward real-life MechWarrior/Gundam type stuff. Though I'd prefer to avoid Robot Jox [imdb.com]. :-)
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:00AM (#17747922) Journal
    I don't understand why the summary uses the phrase "destroy targets." Honestly, I was thinking that a while ago, the United States should be prioritizing weapons that disable humans through means other than chemical or lethal implementations.

    Every time someone is killed by a US soldier (or even UN peacekeeper for that matter), more enemies of the United States are bred. It doesn't matter what the conditions were or the whether or not the rule of engagement were followed.

    I understand this is Singapore issuing the challenge, but I would like to see robots (in any format) capable of navigating buildings and hogtying humans without injuring them. The robots themselves may be at risk but the unknown targets inside could be detained and processed under law. Make them infra red or heat sensing so they can operate in the dark. But I am strong believer that combat needs to move away from lethal harm to the individual. More importantly, you would remove the lethal harm to our own troops. Wars are no longer solved through death. What seems to be prolific in today's world is something the Native Americans called a "Mourning War" where you kill my brother so I kill two of yours and the problem compounds upon itself. There was some sort of mental shift after 1914 where you didn't just destroy a force and the country bowed to you. Each side has put themselves on a pedestal and, as a result, even the populace believes they are right or correct.

    I heard once someone say that the only way to end conflict these days was total elimination of one side of the conflict. They weren't suggesting the implementation of that or genocide, they were merely pointing out the conundrums that exist over pieces of land like the Gaza Strip.

    What does Singapore hope to accomplish with this challenge? Why do they think that wars of the future will still be bent on how lethal your weapons are? Can't they see that the United States has more and better lethal weapons than any other organization in the world ... and yet we are still vexed and taunted by a rag-tag terrorist organization. It's not a matter of flexing your muscle anymore, it's not a matter of dropping a nuke or making an example--I believe that it's a matter of being able to subdue elements inside and expose them for the evils and crimes they commit. Bring justice to them & let them live in shame for what they've done.
  • by wasted (94866) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:18AM (#17748032)
    I don't understand why the summary uses the phrase "destroy targets." Honestly, I was thinking that a while ago, the United States should be prioritizing weapons that disable humans through means other than chemical or lethal implementations.

    Every time someone is killed by a US soldier (or even UN peacekeeper for that matter), more enemies of the United States are bred. It doesn't matter what the conditions were or the whether or not the rule of engagement were followed....

    It is much easier, more effective and cheaper to kill humans than to render them unable to continue combat but still alive. Afterward, corpses don't sue or raise a human rights ruckus. And remember, we're talking about Singapore, not the U.S.

    ...Bring justice to them & let them live in shame for what they've done...
    By then they have already done the deed, and may not even believe that their wrongdoing was wrong. Too late.
  • by dkhoo (618628) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @01:39AM (#17748170)
    I am an employee of DSTA, but I do not speak in my capacity as one.

    The purpose of such contests is typically not to field an operational capability. It is very unlikely that the winning robot or a variant will actually be deployed. The main purpose is to encourage industry and academia to perform research in certain fields, such as machine vision, control systems, AI, etc. This is a long term investment. The secondary purpose is to gauge the state of the art in these fields while advancing it. This is the short term gain.

    The contest is modelled after the DARPA Grand Challenge, which concentrates on outdoor navigation. Similarly, you will not see autonomous combat vehicles anytime soon. However, DARPA has certainly focussed interest and effort toward all the fundamental research questions needed to achieve such a feat. DARPA also now has a good idea of what is possible when planning acquisitions and upgrades, and is able to better assess the technical risk of new developments. If the US Army asked for an autonomous UGV tomorrow, DARPA would be able to give a good estimate of how much it would cost, how long it would take, and what is realistically achievable (then the politicians will come in and screw things up).

    Such contests are an admission that the state of the art is no longer in the military or intelligence communities, but in the acadamic and industrial spheres. AES was developed outside the NSA, for example. More and more equipment is COTS or MOTS (commercial / militarized off-the-shelf). The days when you could get a national laboratory (Singapore has one too) to singlehandedly advance the state of the art are long over. Nowadays inhouse research tends to be focussed on either security-sensitive fields, or areas no one else simply wants to touch. This trend will only accelerate in the future.
  • Pattern recognition (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Myrcutio (1006333) on Thursday January 25, 2007 @03:50AM (#17748816)
    AI today, and probably for a while still, is notoriously bad at pattern recognition. If a program can't predict how a human opponent will behave, it won't win in combat. There alot of 'what if' scenario's that the robot controller needs to account for, or end up being easy prey to an unorthodox opponent. Something urban warfare is notorious for. Til the AI get's intuitive, watching battle bots is as close as we're going to get to something like this.

I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that they might escape the lusts of the flesh. -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"

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