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Robotics The Military

India To Develop Military Robots For Warfare 169

Posted by samzenpus
from the robot-wars dept.
WoodenKnight writes "Indian DRDO chief Avinash Chander has told reporters that development of robotic soldiers would be one of his 'priority thrust areas', saying that 'unmanned warfare in land and air is the future of warfare.' He foresees robotic soldiers assisting human soldiers initially but, he hinted at forward-position deployment of such robots. He gave a timeline of at least a decade for the project to see any practical use but said a number of labs in India are now working on this."
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India To Develop Military Robots For Warfare

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  • If you have well-developed robotics expertise already, you're in a much better position to develop more specialized robots, like robot soldiers. India doesn't really: both its robotics industry and its research are relatively small sectors at the moment, far behind the state of the art in countries like Japan, China, Germany, South Korea, or the USA. They're going to have to fix that before robot soldiers are going to emerge out of it.

    Of course, this might just be a way of selling robotics funding, so maybe that's the goal.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How to get good at something: Try doing it.

      • by Trepidity (597)

        Yes, but in this case the useful "it" to try doing is "robotics". Attaching weapons to them is something that's useful to do once you have the basics down.

        • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:57AM (#43961871) Journal

          On the other hand, if you are trying to get funding for basic research approved, attaching weapons to your grant proposal can be very helpful indeed...

          Since actually getting a robot to kill somebody(in a manner more sophisticated than a land mine) requires all sorts of other capabilities to be worked out first, you can just write "Killer Robots OMG National Security" on your application and then spend a decade doing the basic research you actually wanted to do anyway.

          • by Nadaka (224565) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:34AM (#43962369)

            Robots killing people is fairly easy, simple motion activated systems combined with range finding and ballistics algorithms will do the trick. Add facial/body type/gait recognition to keep it from going after so many shadows.

            Getting them to do that while also not killing the right people is the hard part.

            • Automated fire control, with either the assumption that all targets are valid targets or with a human Yes/No step is indeed the (relatively) easy part. If you want the robot to be anything but a static turret, ideally plugged in to the electrical grid, you fall into the morass of hard robotics problems once again.

            • by Synerg1y (2169962)

              Seriously,

              I'm sure some of those robot gladiators wouldn't be too pleasant to run into in a dark ally.

              1. Create chassis w wheels.
              2. Mount weapons.
              3. ??? Develop AI. or... use a remote control.

            • > Getting them to do that while also not killing the right people is the hard part.

              Advantage: Bad guys.

              Thank god these aren't the kind who go into politics.

            • Robots killing people is fairly easy, simple motion activated systems combined with range finding and ballistics algorithms will do the trick. Add facial/body type/gait recognition to keep it from going after so many shadows.

              Getting them to do that while also not killing the right people is the hard part.

              That's not the hard part, actually. The hard part is getting them to do all that more cost effectively than a human soldier. If an automated robotic killing machine doesn't do a better job than the same cost in the number of humans, you're going to have a hard time convincing anybody to buy more than one to play with.

            • by 12_West (615382) *
              Never confront a Bolo without an Electropass!
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            It really depends how indiscriminate you are. A robot that just shoots at any moving IR target isn't particularly complex but as long as you point it at no-man's land it can be quite effective.

            Don't underestimate Indian weapons tech. They already have some pretty high end stuff like the fastest cruise missiles in the world, for which no-one has any realistic defence yet. A drone that attacks anything moving in a designated kill-zone could be assembled out of existing technology and some glue.

        • by Synerg1y (2169962)

          And I quote:

          He said many new technologies have to be developed such as "miniature communication, materials, cognitive technologies, self-learning processes and interaction with human."

          All in the span of a decade... they have no idea.

          Maybe this project can serve as a funding guise for stabilizing their electrical grid, can't imagine it could take the toll of charging a robot army, much less powering a space heater at present.

          • by cusco (717999)
            It's not like they have to develop everything from scratch the way the Pentagon does it. They can use COTS hardware, research current state of the art, hire away talented researchers, and contract with experienced companies. If it was being done by Boeing or Lockheed they'd probably insist on reinventing the wheel first, and then the electric motor, and integrated circuits, before even starting to build a robot. India's military is also not going to insist on perfection, but a product that is "good enoug
            • by Synerg1y (2169962)

              Whether they use existing technology or not, cognitive abilities, and self-learning (AI) have been tried and side-lined by far more developed countries.

              If they create a robot army in 5 years... my money's on it'd get picked apart by the most basic of current drone technology.

    • by Aguazul2 (2591049)

      Note: Drones are robots. Perhaps everyone is imagining 3 Laws humanoids.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Indian teams always do shitty in international robotics competitions, but not for lack of effort or talent. Their shoe string budgets are usually propped up by ingenuity & hard work where a significant portion of their labor ends up invested in DIY shit which better capitalized teams were able to just buy CoTs. It will be interesting to see if government financing of the field will end up in their hands or if it will be plundered by corruption.

      If the faculty supervising the team exercises authority to b

  • Robots... (Score:4, Funny)

    by kryliss (72493) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:39AM (#43961567)

    Will the robots be able to handle their own tech support should they have an issue?

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:41AM (#43961607) Journal

    "Hello, this is Fred who-is-definitely-not-from-Hyderabad, thank you for calling killbot technical support, how can I help you today?"

    "Hi Fred, I'm afraid my killbot has been refusing all targeting instructions and attempting to kill me."

    "Ah, let me check with my supervisor, one moment please."

    "Thank you for your patience. Please try turning it off and never turning it on again."

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      "We have communicated to the vendor, and there needs to being a patch to OS, and being an update to the number three logic board. We will be doing that now.

      "Wait, we need to do updates after hours..."

      "I am reminding you that it is after hours."

      "It's after hours *there*. It's still ten in the morning here! Wait, the lights on the robot have gone out."

      (a long time later)

      "We are very sorry to be reporting that the logic board has failed after the update. The vendor has been contacted. We are expect the re

  • So when do we get to pilot giant robots in space?
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:41AM (#43961619) Journal
    Very surprised. Though no country wants to risk the lives of their soldiers, only in the USA soldiers in body bags have such a heavy political price. India being a Democracy it too would pay a higher political price than, may be Pakistan and China. But still it is a highly populated country without draft. In fact, even in the USA, after the draft has been removed and it became an all volunteer armed forces, the political cost of returning body bags have dropped a lot. So why robots in the forward firing lines? May be it is posturing, goading Pakistan into spending its money on robots instead of supplying terrorists with cheap AK-47s.
    • by Njovich (553857)

      only in the USA soldiers in body bags have such a heavy political price

      The fact that the US is one of the few countries to start foreign wars in the past decade, and that the president responsible got re-elected makes me doubt that. Hell, even in a bunch countries just supporting the US in Iraq and Afghanistan the political fallout was bigger. Not sure about India though.

      • Yes, the soldiers in body bags have lost a lot of the political cost in the recent Iraq/Afghanistan war. Gulf War I was remarkable for its low causalities. But I think it is wrong to attribute it to some post 9-11 change of mind of the American public. The earlier high political cost came in when the draft was in place and many solid middle class affluent families actually faced the law: all men are created equal. They had resources to dodge it, going to college, becoming a missionary, becoming a Rhodes Sch
      • only in the USA soldiers in body bags have such a heavy political price

        The fact that the US is one of the few countries to start foreign wars in the past decade,

        The only one foreign war that the USA has started since the Cold War is the 2nd Gulf War. Every other war has been legitimate (the war in Afghanistan), the invasion of Panama (which even the majority of Panamanians welcomed it), UN sanctioned to prevent genocide (as in the Balkans) or ill-prepared, ill-advise attempts to provide support to desperately needed UN-sanctioned peacekeeping/humanitarian work (the Somali War and the "Black Hawk Down" incident.).

        and that the president responsible got re-elected makes me doubt that.

        Junior (that's how I call Bush Jr.) got re-elected on

        • by Njovich (553857)

          The only one foreign war that the USA has started since the Cold War is the 2nd Gulf War.

          Yes, because Afghanistan is in the US? I love the meaning you give to the word 'foreign' :). With the whole 'Prism is not a big deal, we just spy on the rest of the world' stuff, I guess you are not the only one using that meaning. However, I stated nothing about things being legitimate or not.

          But to pretend that him getting re-elected is solely the result of the population not giving a shit about body bags, that's over

          • The only one foreign war that the USA has started since the Cold War is the 2nd Gulf War.

            Yes, because Afghanistan is in the US? I love the meaning you give to the word 'foreign' :).

            Well, what other meaning could you possibly attach to it given the context of the conversation?. The focus is on the US. Ergo, that is the context, ergo the word "foreign" from the geographical context of the US.

            If you are referring to a different meaning, please share your corrected, more accurate meaning so as to understand what the hell you are referring to (with examples of the other "foreign" wars initiated by the US since the end of the Cold War, thanks.)

            With the whole 'Prism is not a big deal, we just spy on the rest of the world' stuff, I guess you are not the only one using that meaning.

            I have no clue about what you are guessing, b

            • by Njovich (553857)

              I had a bit of a stressful day yesterday and I feel like I over-responded to your message and I do apologize for that. I guess we can see eachothers points and take it as they are.

          • Your reading comprehension sucks. His point was that we didn't start the war in Afghanistan, not that Afghanistan wasn't a foreign country. The argument is that 9/11 was effectively started by Afghanistan that supported the terror network that launched the attack.

            Not that I agree/disagree with any other points either of you made.

      • The Iraq-Kuwait War was in 1990, The eviction of Iraq from Kuwait was accomplished by a broad intenational coalition [wikipedia.org], the so-called second Gulf War was really a continuation of the first gulf war, but even giving you that one this past decade; I'm wondering about your plural wars. Could you be confusing the NATO action in Lybia with an American war?

    • No, when there is no political cost to body bags, you develop a strategy similar to China's Korean war strategy. Send waves of unarmed soldiers towards the enemy until the enemy runs out of bullets, then send in the soldiers with bullets. That's a zero political cost for body bags offensive. India has never done that. But they could, with robots!

    • by rMortyH (40227)

      A killer robot costs way more than a human soldier, and is much harder to replace.
      It will be very interesting when this comes into the equation. Are these really to protect the soldiers?
      Who will end up protecting whom, and who is more 'expendable'?

      • The military doesn't have to recruit robots, it just builds them. Robots don't get tired, don't complain, perform better & more consistently than humans, don't get PTSD, and don't cause public uproar when they're destroyed (vs. bodybags).
    • by TheLink (130905)

      Speaking of posturing, I'm not sure if replacing these bunch with robots would have quite the same impact: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMbH_6tryiw#t=2m07s [youtube.com]

    • by a_hanso (1891616)

      Please see their first prototype here: http://youtu.be/7yBnl_krN_U?t=1m17s [youtu.be]
      It is formidable.

    • instead of supplying terrorists with cheap AK-47s.

      There you have it, the "cheapest robot possible" TM. Simply program someone to think that their way of life, freedom, lands, traditions, religion is being threatened by something else (the broader and more abstract the better) and you have a pretty cheap killing machine which doesn't need any nuclear power plant to move around but an AK47, some bullets and some rice.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      India wants to be taken seriously as a major military force. They actually have some very advanced weapons, including the fastest cruise missiles in the world and modern, high end fighter aircraft. Built with Russian help, but still...

      They also want to export that stuff to other countries for profit.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Agreed. Anyone with experience with an Indian call center might think that if their military is anything like this, perhaps robots (even primitive ones) might do a better job. The thing is, I've worked with the Indian military, and I found them smart, well trained and well motivated. So I don't understand this at all.

    • by couchslug (175151)

      Robots can move into situations where fear would stop most humans or distract them.

      If you need to troll for contact and observe an area, robots can be quite useful. They can, for example, approach armored fighting vehicles "unafraid" and kill them.

      It's an old idea:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=syuu_g7svoE [youtube.com]

  • KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAN!!!!! Oh, fine, I know we're talking robots, not genetically augmented humans, but I had to scream it.
  • by Liambp (1565081) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:44AM (#43961669)

    ..are doomed to repeat it.

    • by dpilot (134227)

      They/We already do that with history, despite similar warnings being given frequently and extensively. History is given much better lip-service than science fiction, so why should science fiction fare any better?

    • Except for that Fiction element.
      Science fiction tends to have that one little thing that makes the robots go off their programming, without a Safe Default mode. You know to make it a good story, that people will want to read.

      No one wants to hear about the little boy who got killed for crossing a zone labeled you will be shot if entered, because he crossed the area. Or in case of a major malfunction where they will not power down. You just kinda shoot them down from the air, or just send in a new batch ba

  • When wars ultimately get to robots fighting each other, the most common sense approach to countering that type of engagement is to attack the people controlling them.
    India is heavily dependent on wireless communications as their land-line infrastructure is very poor. So it would make sense to decentralize their command centers and instead rely on ad-hoc wireless networks to distribute instructions. Then people will be targeting enemy combatants that are literally sitting in their living rooms in the midst o

    • Military analysts have a term for what you're describing: fourth generation warfare [antiwar.com].
    • You can't target communications networks as it's wireless with no central point of attack.

      Your experience with the robustness of wifi is very different from mine. I have enough wifi problems without military communication jammers making it even worse.

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      > You can't target communications networks as it's wireless with no central point of attack.

      EMP. Done. (Did you fall asleep before the end of The Avengers?)

  • Reality TV (Score:4, Funny)

    by canadiannomad (1745008) on Monday June 10, 2013 @10:54AM (#43961831) Homepage

    Ok so this will likely lead to robot vs robot warfare with no real human casualties... So, I say we put that shit on TV and enjoy :) /joke
    Nah, I don't see any way for this to escalate badly /sarcasm

    --
    I wish I didn't have to put tags for people who don't get humour.

    • Ok so this will likely lead to robot vs robot warfare with no real human casualties... So, I say we put that shit on TV and enjoy :) /joke

      Why the joke? In WWII people bought war bonds. In WWIII you'll crowdfund armies and those who contribute more will get the chance to lead them into battle. Those who contribute a smaller fee will get full access to the robot statistics on real time!

      Wow, I gotta go get my lawyer and patent this shit.

  • We need to get an International treaty in place against these kinds of weapons before everyone has their own.

  • They will be $35 each, and there will be one in every household, unless they fail to meet their milestone [slashdot.org] of supplying 100,000 units by March 31. They expect to get a jump on this by procuring unused parts from the failed Aakash project.
  • Just sayin'..

    We have the same problem in the U.S....

    • by jader3rd (2222716)
      Employing the hungry in creating robots is one way to reduce the number of hungry.
    • by Kittenman (971447)

      Just sayin'..

      We have the same problem in the U.S....

      "No country is so poor or so backward that it can't afford the most modern weapons technology". Can't remember who said it, but ...

  • All these comments and nobody has yet commented on "Miltary" robots? Slashdot, I'm ashamed of you!
  • The India population is 1.241 billion according to google. It would be hard press to find a cheaper alternative other than human soldier.
  • It seems India's govt officials have finally learnt a trick or two from their American counterparts - how to announce grandiose defence research with a huge budget!
  • Jeez slashdot, three Simpsons references so far and no one's mentioned:

    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.

  • by Lazarian (906722) on Monday June 10, 2013 @11:50AM (#43962603)
    I've always thought that a lot of people don't realize that having lives in harms way on -either- side of a is a deterrent in itself to using weapons that would be horribly beyond all conscience (that in itself, well, depends on who's pushing the buttons). India and Pakistan say, have nuclear weapons. If Pakistan had a few infantry and tank divisions, along with a couple border villages wiped out by robotic troops, I'd think that the bar would be lowered as to them responding with a tactical nuclear strike to eliminate the robot threat. Then things would snowball from there. The situation wouldn't go from escalating from conventional to chemical in between at all. War is about killing people. When one side has troops that are machines, the other side does not have to restrain themselves to the moral restraints that have kept whatever tenuous leash on us throughout our history. Just a thought.
  • Enthiran (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Meneth (872868)
    The robot "Chitti" in the 2010 Indian blockbuster movie Enthiran [wikipedia.org] was originally intended for army service.
  • As much as I love robotics I just can't see how the leaders in India could exist with the guilt of spending the sums involved in building a modern military. Too much poverty, suffering and need to go down this road. Maybe building useful robots for export in order to raise funds to help the suffering would be a better goal. What would Ghandi have done?

    • by cusco (717999)
      Military leaders don't have any guilt, that's 1) why the join the military, 2) why they rise to the top of the bureaucracy over the corpses of those they sent out to die in their place. Every military can ensure that its budget rises eternally simply be sending legislators a photo of their kid taken through the scope of a sniper rifle. I don't foresee military budgets dropping any time soon.
  • ... welcome our new, colossal robot juggernaut overlords.

  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday June 10, 2013 @12:25PM (#43963025) Journal

    ...honestly, not even worth reporting.

    1) India has trouble building tanks, airplanes, ships, and subs...far more 'pedestrian' tools of warfare. Their programs are bloated and rife with corruption, delays, technical failures, overpromises, etc. such that they are only capable of producing inferior equipment at ridiculous costs.

    2) India is the second most populous country in the world. If there's anything they DON'T need it's to replace the dirt-cheap organic, self-replicating, minimally-functional dubious cannon fodder they currently have with hideously expensive, fragile, dubious cannon fodder made out of plastic and metal that they don't have and likely will never be able to build for the foreseeable future.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Johnny 5 is ALIVE!!!

  • I wonder if they'll take bribes and how much one can be bought for?
  • Indian weapons are a joke. I am more worried about one of our missiles targeted for Karachi landing in Karnataka. 'No one knows anything' is applicable to Indian films and Indian weapons.
    The robot soldier idea is a non-starter vanity project, like the $10 tablet, auto-mobiles powered by water and air and so on. No need to worry. But like Russel Peter's would say, playing with these robots 'someone is going to get hurt real bad'.
  • I mean, can you imagine an 8 armed robot? :-0
  • "You have 10 seconds to comply"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Pakistan has said that they plan to clone Jar Jar Binks.

  • nuf sed :-)

  • As they developed and distributed the world's cheapest tablet to students. .. As they built the best power infrastructure. ..

    I mean, as an Indian I am really worried that off the cuff pronouncements with no real basis in facts and figures, or budget will soon become policy.

    AFAIK, this gentleman (Mr. Avinash Chandar) is the new appointed chief of the DRDO. (Defense Research and Development Organisation) and this piece is from an interview hye gave when he took over.

    This is not say that the DRDO h
  • Indians are morally corrupt by birth (Caste system) for the past 3000 years.
    Google "Companies ruined or almost ruined by forward caste"

"We learn from history that we learn nothing from history." -- George Bernard Shaw

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