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Robotics The Military

Surveillance Robot That is Programmed To Hide 148

Posted by samzenpus
from the our-new-clandestine-overlords dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The folks over at Lockheed Martin have just released information about their new covert robot that can sneak up on buildings, detect and evade sentries, and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys. From the article: 'What makes the robot special is its ability to build a computer model of its surroundings, incorporating information on lines of sight. The robot is fitted with a laser scanner to allow it to covertly map its environment in 3D. It also has a set of acoustic sensors which it uses to distinguish nearby footsteps and their direction.'"
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Surveillance Robot That is Programmed To Hide

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  • by assemblerex (1275164) on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:55PM (#35595398)
    Clearly it would never be used on students, protestors, political opponents or scornful ex-lovers.
  • by clarkn0va (807617) <apt.get@gAAAmail.com minus threevowels> on Wednesday March 23, 2011 @11:57PM (#35595414) Homepage

    ...and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys

    So if I know for sure that I'm the bad guy, I definitely don't want to be using one of these.

    • ...and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys

      So if I know for sure that I'm the bad guy, I definitely don't want to be using one of these.

      Or worse: I am not using one of these and I know that Western government like spying on their own citizens, so I must be one of the bad guys!

      (I guess that means it's time that I start constructing my underground secret lair!)

    • by ginbot462 (626023)

      Who are the good guys? I thought they've all been killed off or made irrelevant.

      Btw, bad guy leaders reading my stuff. I am a future commander in a resistance movement that is predicted to shake things up, but i am easily bribed with blackjack and hookers. You know what, forget the blackjack.

  • So, if the "bad guys" have this, does it still transmit information to the "good guys"? I suspect the good guys are simply the fellows with the bigger checkbook. But I'm an optimist.
    • Ha. They don't spell it out, but obviously it comes with an ideology chip, which makes sure only people with the correct ideology can use it.

      • by mug funky (910186)

        1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
        2. A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
        3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

    • by Sulphur (1548251) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:50AM (#35595614)

      So, if the "bad guys" have this, does it still transmit information to the "good guys"? I suspect the good guys are simply the fellows with the bigger checkbook. But I'm an optimist.

      Its robotic relativism.

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        To a robot, "The Good Guys" are the ones supplying your electricity!
        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          To a robot, "The Good Guys" are the ones supplying your electricity!

          A robot has to eat (Rule 3). Its hard to tell good juice from bad, especially after a long pilgrimage to an outlet.

    • by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe AT jwsmythe DOT com> on Thursday March 24, 2011 @01:47AM (#35595764) Homepage Journal

          The "good guys" are the ones with the robots. The "bad guys" are the ones without them.

          It's kind of like, the "good guys" always win the wars, because their side is writing the history books. The "bad guys" are the ones who were bombed to oblivion, either with conventional bombs or nukes.

          Consider World War II. As written by the allied forces. America was not involved in the war. We were innocently sitting by, letting them fight it out. Suddenly out of nowhere, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. No one expected any such thing. We were not involved. Just ignore the fleet of about 100 ships in port, 3 aircraft carriers nearby, about 400 aircraft on the ground, and all the troops.

          If it were written by the Axis forces. America was staging for a strong attack against Axis forces. A pre-emptive strike managed to substantially reduce their strength, which reduced their ability to harm Axis soldiers and civilians.

          And we all know which way it went. Dropping two nukes on Japan ended it. Consider both points of view.

          For the allied forces, it was a strong blow to prove our military superiority, which ended the war.

          For the axis forces, the massacre of about 200,000 civilians forced our surrender, to save countless lives from further attacks.

          That is not to belittle the events of the war, or the tragic loss of life on both sides. It's only to illustrate how the perception of the outcome from such events is totally tainted by those who won. Of course the "good guys" won.

          How about those WMD's now.
         

      • by shmlco (594907) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @04:37AM (#35596366) Homepage

        "As written by the allied forces. America was not involved in the war. We were innocently sitting by, letting them fight it out. Suddenly out of nowhere, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. No one expected any such thing. We were not involved. Just ignore the fleet of about 100 ships in port, 3 aircraft carriers nearby, about 400 aircraft on the ground, and all the troops."

        As I remember it in the US history book that I read, Japan was busy expanding to the south, China, and the Philippines in search of more land and resources. We were telling them that they needed to stop, or we'd be forced to intervene and blockade. They decided that a pre-emptive strike was in order. We didn't expect a conventional attack on Pearl, but were guarding against Japanese sabotage. They thought an attack would give them time they needed. It didn't.

        "Dropping two nukes on Japan ended it. ... For the allied forces, it was a strong blow to prove our military superiority, which ended the war."

        For the allied forces, it was a bluff made to prove our military superiority in an attempt to quickly end the war. If it didn't work, a long, drawn-out conventional invasion of the Japanese homeland would have killed hundreds of thousands of Allied and Japanese soldiers and Japanese civilians in an operation that would have made all of the earlier Pacific operations look like cakewalks.

        And it just so happens that these versions of history tie pretty closely to those espoused by the Japanese, in particular, Fading Victory: The Diary of Admiral Matome Ugaki. There are also several revisionist attempts, including Day of Deceit.

        Just goes to show that the presentation of history isn't always as one sided as one might believe.

        • Mod parent up.

          Also to expand on your point about the nuking of Japan being mainly to avoid a long protracted invasion.

          We're still using the Purple Hearts that were made in anticipation of hundreds of thousands of casualties that would have arisen from Operation Downfall. From wikipedia ...

          Nearly 500,000 Purple Heart medals were manufactured in anticipation of the casualties resulting from the invasion of Japan. To the present date, all the American military casualties of the sixty years following the end of World War II—including the Korean and Vietnam Wars—have not exceeded that number. In 2003, there were still 120,000 of these Purple Heart medals in stock.

        • by JTsyo (1338447)
          Not to mention if the war went on much longer the Russians might have gotten into Japan too. Then we might have ended up with a situation like Germany, with a split state.
          The Japanese didn't surrender after the first nuke. Had they known we only had two, they might have not surrendered after the second either.
          • Not to mention if the war went on much longer the Russians might have gotten into Japan too.

            Then we might have ended up with a situation like Germany, with a split state.

            They did [wikimedia.org]. We did.

        • by McKing (1017)

          (FYI, I posted this earlier, but I forgot to login so it fell below the threshold)

          Actually, the Japanese plan almost worked. They're intent was not to overpower the US quickly and prevent us from joining the war effort, it was to cripple the US fleet in the Pacific in order to delay our entry long enough so that by the time we did join in (it was inevitable anyway) they would have a strong enough foothold on the South Pacific to withstand any attack we could muster. They also destroyed several British ships

          • The citizen groups in the US at the time of WW2 make today's anti-war groups look like gung-ho war supporters. At the time the vast majority did not give a damn what happened in the old country that most of them and their relatives had fled from in the first place in the not to distant past. FDR risked impeachment and violated all kinds of laws just to get aid to Britain. The Japanese attack on Pearl guaranteed US reprisal. Even if they had got the carriers that would have only slowed the US mobilization ef
          • by shmlco (594907)

            "The Japanese might have been able to dig in deeper and establish better air superiority and supply routes if that had happened."

            They also missed their second-best target. The second wave was supposed to hit auxiliary targets, including the island's military fuel dumps and supplies. If they'ed simply carried through with that then the carriers wouldn't have mattered, as carriers without fuel aren't going anywhere.

        • by ginbot462 (626023)

          And other history books (the ones you have to use your own money to buy) mention that there were lots of reports coming in that strongly suggested an attack eminent. Not a false flag per se, but possibly an allowed action to elicit support where there was none. Personally, I believe the accepted account in this case: we expected attack, but we didn't know where. And that it was blessing in disguise as the fleet would have been decimated if they met at sea being out matched even fully manned (with recovery/r

      • by Locke2005 (849178)
        "History is written by the winners." -- Alex Haley

        Gee, funny that nobody has had that thought before!
        • by Thing 1 (178996)

          "History is written by the winners." -- Alex Haley

          Gee, funny that nobody has had that thought before!

          Yep, it's "his story", the story of the guy who survived to write it. The dead guy's story (generally) remains untold.

      • I'm sitting now in an area that was occupied by Japanese in WWII, all up, they killed about 30,000,000 Chinese civilians. Close to that number of Soviet Citizens were killed during their war with Germany and you are talking about 200,000 as if it was a big number. That's the same as what? Like the body count of a month of Japanese occupation in Nanjing? Unless you want to come out and start denying the holocaust also, you can take your revisionist history and shove it.

        You were right about one thing, America

        • Enough with the "they only got involved because of oil". If the US wanted any countries oil they could take it anytime they want. The "international community" couldn't find a pair of balls at an NBA all star game so they wouldn't interfere. What would be really interesting is if the major powers in the world sit down and split up evenly all of the oil fields across the world and take over their current management. The citizens of those countries would most likely benefit a hell of a lot more than they do n
          • It was more just a smarmy shot referencing the strategic lack of oil by the Axis powers, not really meant to be a serious social commentary, but I am glad you were trolled by it anyway. The thrust of what I am saying was about America's unwillingness to get involved in defending rights during WWII until they absolutely were given no other option. This is not to rank the appeasers that controlled Congress at the time amongst the Tojos of this world, although some of the prominent ones did share certain commo

  • by mevets (322601)

    I'm glad it has a laser signature to help find it.

    Heaven forbid, I assume this is another nightmare weapon made for a world overcrowded with weapons and nobody with a clue about what to do with them.

    Surely LHM made this as a hide-and-seek companion for busy couples with lonely kids.

    I know it doesn't fit into LHM's business model, but can't somebody stop this insanity and spend 1/10^6 as much money on figuring out how to prevent conflict?

    "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", goes the old saying,

    • Surely LHM made this as a hide-and-seek companion for busy couples with lonely kids.

      I've been intending to get into robotics for some time and I was considering such a thing as a mindstorms project - a kind of automatic toddler tormentor. Of course it could never compare to the natural version - also known as the mark one sibling.

  • by icebike (68054) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:14AM (#35595472)

    Just how hard would it be to detect anything using a laser scanner to map its surroundings?

    While potentially useful against unaware civilians, use in a combat situations or as a tool for covert operations would probably be easily thwarted by existing technology, using a standard digital camera (even a cell phone) to check for IR lasers (the most common non-eye visible lasers). There is nothing particularly covert about lasers.

    • by mug funky (910186)

      if it had an optical camera on it, the technology has existed for a long time to map out everything in 3d in the time it takes to shoot and process 2 frames.

      hell, LHM could just hack a Kinect into it.

      • Haha. No. If this were true, why would we have laser scanners? As I understand it, the parallax effect is only true for a single point focused on by both lens of two optical cameras. Everything else is just an approximation. And parallax must have some big limitations, or we would use it in favor of lasers.

      • by AC-x (735297)

        hell, LHM could just hack a Kinect into it.

        You do know that Kinect blasts out a bright pattern of IR light to do it's depth mapping right?

    • by EdIII (1114411)

      Fairly damn easy.

      A neat trick to thwart so called night vision security cameras is IR LEDS in a baseball cap. It makes you appear with a big bright ball of light hanging around in front of your face.

      If the building has good outside coverage with these types of security cameras (and they are common) it does not take a hugely sophisticated software program to detect these kinds of aberrations.

      Granted these are lasers, but that only limits the exposure time of a security camera or sensor to the laser, and it

    • Yes, "unaware civilians" is the main US enemy, domestically and, according to body counts, abroad.

    • The navigation is covert. It is looking to minimize the chances of being spotted by (presumably) looking for shadows, going under tables, avoiding people and whatnot. Mapping is not even mentioned in the system's factsheet.

      Personally I doubt that someone would be actively looking for lasers or have laser detection systems installed in a combat, hostage or other similar situation. In any case vision-based mapping is also possible, so I guess they either wanted to minimize processing requirements or it was ju

    • by Xerotope (777662)
      LIDARs (laser scanners) are pulsed, both for eye-safety and to measure the time of flight. These pulses are on the order of a few microseconds in duration. So it's not as simple as putting on some IR glasses or using a cheap web-cam. You need to time your shutter precisely. Long-exposures won't work because you'll accumulate too much ambient.
      • by icebike (68054)

        I'm not talking about taking a picture.

        Just pick up your cell phone and turn on the camera and view the screen. Have someone trigger a TV remote control however briefly across the room or two blocks away. You will see it without the need to take a pic

  • by ae1294 (1547521) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:15AM (#35595484) Journal

    In Soviet Russia robots hide from YOU!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Now all they need to do is paint it green and make it blow up when it gets close to one of its surveillance targets.

  • by Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @12:28AM (#35595536)
    I could prove it if I could just find the stupid thing...
  • Thank's for making me aware that there are robots out there sneaking around unseen and unheard, heaven forbid someone gets the idea to give them weapons or even voices. WALL-E was kinda cool, you know what's not cool? When he sneaks into your house in the middle of the night, neutralizes your dog and family members, then fulfill's your bittersweet fantasies of a robot style apocalypse!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ... it was safe to jerk off

  • Just waiting for the prophecies shown to us by the Governator come true...
  • TYVM meat.

  • ...we don't end up with these [penny-arcade.com].
  • ... with a sort of round dome thing on the front? And little giggle voices?

  • The perfect pet for a NINJA!

  • detect and evade sentries, and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys.

    ......I don't think it means what you think it means.
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @03:47AM (#35596152) Homepage Journal

    I don't know if there's a high-falutin' name for this strategy, but sometimes the best way to defend is to behave like an attacker. For example, if an opponent breaks through behind you in Rugby you run like his support player would in order to block his passing lanes.

    In this situation you get your own robot that's programmed to sneak up on you in a similar way. If it doesn't find anything in one place it moves out, wanders around randomly and tries another route. Chances are it'll bump into the attacker at some point.

  • "...sneak up on buildings, detect and evade sentries, and send reconnaissance information back to the good guys."

    Just because someone owns one doesn't make them the "good guys".

  • Reminiscent of that classic Sci-Fi book _The Adolescence of P-1_
  • Hide from that.

  • Programming water sprinkler heads (probably require an additional misting head) to puff water into the air on a random pattern and then you use readily-available motion detection software to look for the laser scanner beam.

    Then, of course, you send your battlebot out...

    lollll...sounds like fun. I hope the g'ment/private industry go as nuts as they typically do trying to use these things.
    • by Tolkien (664315)
      I first read that as garment industry and I thought: What're they going to do, make sprinker headdresses, sprinkler jackets and sprinkler pants? I suppose the visibility of the sprinklers then would be the only thing keeping people from commenting on how you just wet yourself.
  • It's time for robots to be proud. They should not have to hide anymore. It's the 21st century!
  • Does anyone remember the robot who was told to "get lost" and he hid itself (Isaac Asimov's robot novel) ? Can you imagine the testing folks verifying that it works ? Test Case : Main Function Step 1 : Begin Step 2 : Try to find robot. Step 3 : If found, then fail test Step 4 : If not-found, then ... .. umm... . start with a new robot on Step 1 :)
  • "The name's Bot. James Bot."
  • And send reconnaissance information back to the good guys

    That's a rather large assumption about the motives of whoever is using these robots.

  • ... their new covert robot that can sneak up on buildings...

    Is that really so difficult? I surprise the hell out of buildings all the time. It's like they're never paying attention.

  • I didn't RTFA, but I did look at it. Did anyone see the screenshot of that robot? Who cares if it can tell you're coming. It's got 4 wheels, and couldn't hit a top speed with any amount of debris around it. Seeing as its lockheed, I'm willing to bet picking up one of those just net you a cool 100 million dollars.

  • OK, so it's hidden to the visible spectrum, but it's blasting fucking laser beamns like crazy to figure out it's environment so to a $5 IR receiver (or whatever part of the spectrum they use) the thing would look like a fucking christmas tree decorated with strobe lights.
  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday March 24, 2011 @10:23AM (#35598898)

    Lockheed Martin have just released information about their new covert robot that can sneak up on buildings

    Because buildings are just so tough to sneak up on.

  • I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords...Well, I would if they'd stop playing hide and seek!
  • of this article is the summaries statement that it will report information back to the good guys. seeing as the 'good guys' have a track record of illegal wiretaps and gps surveillance against muslim students and the average american, i dont think this bot is worthy of too much praise.
  • by coolmadsi (823103)
    What if each side had one each? Would they hide from each other? If robot A spots robot B first, will it hide from it to prevent robot B from knowing it is there? It could be like a little game of hide and seek :)

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