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Robotics The Military

Air Force Planning New Drone Fleet For Pakistan 240

mattnyc99 writes "With tensions high on the border, a new commander in Afghanistan, and complaints of civilian deaths from robotic US strikes in Pakistan raising anti-American sentiment, the Air Force is sketching out concepts for new robotic hitmen, reports Esquire.com. Among the new drones (which are all very small) are the Suburb Warrior (loaded with four or five mini missiles for semi-urban environments), the Sniper targeting system ("that can lock on to multiple targets, allowing a single drone pilot to coordinate the attacks of a squadron of robots"), and a backup fleet of flying buggies that act as suicide-bomber snipers. From the article: 'Picking through the dozens of systems in this briefing, many of which will be flight-tested within five years, there's a clear set of goals: build smaller, even microscopic drones with smaller weapons that can hunt in swarms and engage targets in the close quarters of urban battlefields. And hunt as soon as possible.'"
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Air Force Planning New Drone Fleet For Pakistan

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  • by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) * on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:39PM (#28367337)
    Esquire.com top 3 stories:
    This one.
    The greatest karaoke song of all time.
    How the american man "really" spends his day.

    Not sure that I would put all my magical beans into that lone basket.
    • Yes I was a little off topic, but I was making a point about the reference without a second reference. Otherwise I thought the article was rather good and informed.

      However, a second reference which were to collaborate the esquire.com article might have been in order since I'm not sure that esquire.com has anybody on staff that one could call informed in the field.
  • When i hear something like that i must always think about what cool stuff all those scientists could have made if they would have put there efforts into something usefull like Space travel or something...im sure we could have a freaking warp drive *g*
    • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:55PM (#28367493) Homepage Journal
      Civilian space development is just an excuse to do military development on the sly. Consider the Chinese manned space programme. Their Government wants the capability but not so they can plant a flag on the moon eventually.
      • Just last weekend I went to the American Modelers Association's Futaba Extreme Flight Championships. It was basically figure skating for R/C aircraft done to music.

        The fixed wing aircraft were impressive for the things they could do that their bigger piloted cousins could never do (such as nose-up hovering). But the real eye openers were the helicopters.

        The small R/C helicopters in those experienced fifteen-year-old hands could pretty much do anything you could think of: Instant transitions between verti

    • by L3370 ( 1421413 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:05PM (#28367565)
      Its also worth noting that war has driven technological advances much faster than any other single reason, so I wouldn't go as far to say science has been wasted on war. One example...Emergency room trauma techniques and equipment were perfected on the battlefield. millions of lives have been saved because of the millions that were killed or maimed in war. some of the coolest gadgets we use today came from the research done in finding ways to kill eachother.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        ok maybe i did say it a bit wrong...i dont want to say that there is no development through this, i just think those things should be developed for civil uses and then for military uses (which will ahppen inevitably with pretty much every technology)
  • by rastoboy29 ( 807168 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:56PM (#28367503) Homepage
    It's only a matter of time before anybody, anywhere in the world can be picked off by a robot without any warning.

    It's modern technology, Bobby!
    • I for one welcome our swarming miniaturized robot overlords. Not. Do unto others as thou would have them do unto thee. How long until thee be herded around like a slave by one of these little mofos at gunpoint? World dictatorship by one guy, with efficient enforcement. Rebellion impossible.
    • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @08:41PM (#28368279)

      It's only a matter of time before anybody, anywhere in the world can be picked off by a robot without any warning.

      Correct, and the vile idiots designing and deploying these systems for the United States should be asking themselves, "How will I feel when one of them kills an American president?"

      Because they will. These are assassination machines, and the only thing that has kept assassination at bay as a first-line political tactic is the certainty that the assassin will die or get caught, and therefore be traceable back to their handlers.

      The incredible thing, to me, is that we are still so far from a world of ubiquitous political assassination. The writing has been on the wall since the early '90's. And as is usual with these things, once the cycle of tactical violence has begun, it will be very, very difficult to stop. Even in cases where it is screamingly evident to absolutely anyone with two brain cells to rub together that more violence will never under any circumstances improve the situation, people on both sides keep doing it (I'm thinking of the Palestinian-Israeli situation, ON BOTH SIDES.)

      So after the first presidential candidate dies, say around 2020, the urge to retaliate will be overwhelming. After that, it's tit-for-tat, all the way to hell.

      It won't be the parties doing the killing, either. These things are, or should be, relatively cheap, and the programming is not that difficult. The only reason they are currently expensive is that it is the US government doing it. An "open source" killer robot drone would cost at most a few thousand bucks (use an off-the shelf 1/10th scale RC model as the basic platform).

      How would you like to live in the world when any nutjob with a few thousand bucks to spare can assassinate anyone? Because that's the world you'll be living in, soon enough.

      • by selven ( 1556643 )
        So the important people will just retreat to their bunkers 150 meters below ground level.
      • by Mal-2 ( 675116 )

        It is only a matter of time, and it doesn't matter if the U.S. government does it first or not. Admittedly, throwing money at the problem accelerates the process, but it's going to happen regardless. As you pointed out, once the R&D is done it won't be difficult or expensive to make them. The U.S. is not the only party interested in such devices -- do you propose to stop China from throwing money at the problem? These aren't big, ugly nukes, and a disarmament treaty isn't going to stop them from being m

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Bat Country ( 829565 )

        These are assassination machines, and the only thing that has kept assassination at bay as a first-line political tactic is the certainty that the assassin will die or get caught, and therefore be traceable back to their handlers.

        Nonsense. What stops assassination from being a matter of global policy is a sort of tacit mutual consent to not do it. When you order the assassination of a world leader, you make yourself vulnerable to the same thing. It's the same thing which kept nuclear weapons out of every war since the first one they were used in - the realization that you don't want to live in a world (and probably can't) in which that sort of thing becomes the Right Way To Do Things.

        World Leaders (tm) don't want to be assassinated

  • I'm thinking the ancient drones from stargate is the goal.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If bad guys get hand on this technology which seems likely because these flying creatures will be ubiquitous and in close contact then no one will be safe even presidents of countries .
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Most of these UAVs still require input from a human operator in order to receive authorization to fire. What happens when we fight anyone with moderate technical capabilities? The first thing that I would do when up against a drone army is to break out the RF jammer or a moderately powered microwave dish effectively denying the UAV access to the battlefield.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I hope you've got a lot of jammers and people willing to set them up, because that same UAV that just noticed it can't talk to HQ any longer has just slaved a human pilot in to the zone. He or she is ready to unleash a few HARM's on target to clear up any noisy patches.

      • Have drones working in pairs or larger swarms.
        They lose contact - all drones switch to autopilot, start recording a video of the area, mapping the source of the jamming signal, while lifting off to a safe altitude and trying to recontact the HQ.
        They then stream the video and the jammer's location to the HQ, where humans inspect the data, make a visual and/or thermal lock on the jammer and send one drone on a scripted assignment to take it out while others are used for visual confirmation from a safe altitud

    • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @08:22PM (#28368157)

      "The first thing that I would do when up against a drone army is to break out the RF jammer or a moderately powered microwave dish effectively denying the UAV access to the battlefield."

      No chance UAV designers would take THAT into consideration! :)

    • by qbzzt ( 11136 )

      I'm pretty sure this system will not be used when fighting a medium/high tech enemy. It's to minimize collateral damage when fighting against guerrillas, who tend to be badly equipped.

      It's not the only tool in the arsenal.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PhxBlue ( 562201 )

      The first thing that I would do when up against a drone army is to break out the RF jammer or a moderately powered microwave dish effectively denying the UAV access to the battlefield.

      Which is why Air Force Space Command has spent money investing in Wideband Global SATCOM, Advanced Extremely High Frequency, etc. Spot beams, EHF and powerful transmitters make any signal to a UAV extremely difficult to jam.

    • with one of the plot points from terminator salvation

      and it didn't even work in a fantasy movie

  • by Ozlanthos ( 1172125 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:49PM (#28367895)
    Almost all scientific break-throughs/developments go through a clearly observable cycle. 1. Theoretical, 2. Experimental 3. Prototypical, 4. Militaristic 5. Commercial 6. Entertainment. Granted that a very few developments skipped a step or two, but for the most part, the cycle holds true. Which makes me wonder....how long it will be until we can be watching drones "police" us on Cops????

    • Coming this Fall on NBC....

      You were there when we lured perverts into the spotlight with Chris Hansen... You were there when the "busts" went down. Now, join us as we team up with local law enforcement in an effort TO CATCH A PREDATOR DRONE!

      BigLaunch42: Oh baby, you sound HOT.
      Sparkleflames12: I am, honey.
      BigLaunch42: Right out of the factory, you say?
      Sparkleflames12: I'm so new my sparkles are still compartmentalized top-secret.
      BigLaunch42: Is your operator at home?

      Chris Hansen: Why don't you have a seat right over there.
    • by i_b_don ( 1049110 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @09:32PM (#28368577)

      "Almost all"??? Bullshit.

      Lets start listing breakthroughs and developments that aren't militarized first:

      heart surgery, anigioplasty, television, cellular phones, CAT scans, chemotherapy, vaccinations, dental implants, hearing aids, digital photography, digital video recording, dark matter, DNA, plate techtonics, AIDS medicine, gene therapy, mapping the human genome, HIV testing, the remote control, insulin, kidney dialysis, plasma television, flat panel television, MRIâ(TM)s, pacemakers, photovoltaic cells, antidepressants, robots in production lines, scanning electron microscopes, smoke detectors, the birth control pill, performing organ transplants, UPC codes, and Viagra

      In addition practically all modern electronics were not built with the military in mind nor were they initially used for military. This includes things like multi-million transistor processors, gigabit memory chips, high resolution flat panel displays, gigabit eithernet, etc. The military has a different set of requirements before it uses technology than corporations. They demand a higher level of stability and reliability than a commercial enterprise requires. As such a corporation is going to use the highest performance CPUâ(TM)s on their workstations and desktops while inside a nuclear sub theyâ(TM)re going to still be using Pentium IIâ(TM)s that have been thoroughly evaluated and proven to work.

      Commerce drives way more R&D development in this day and age than does the military. There are lots of exceptions because the military has a different set of requirements and therefore they research different things, but the time when the military drives "almost all scientific break-throughs" is long dead. The military still drives some scientific development, but itâ(TM)s a drop in the bucket compared to the rest of the scientific community.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ruie ( 30480 )

        You have many bad examples.

        First of all, there is a difference between a final product and the original discovery. For example, plasma televisions are a product.

        Secondly, during early days of semiconductor industry almost all US output was bought up by the military - to the degree that first consumer transistor radios were made by Japanese who were prohibited from having their own military. CCDs and digital cameras were widely used in satellite imaging - Hubble had at least two military twins that were po

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:51PM (#28367903) Homepage

    The biggest issue of the 21st century is post-scarcity technology wielded by people still preoccupied with fighting over perceived scarcity.

    Nuclear power, biotech, AI, robotics, nanotech, the internet, and social bureaucracy -- each of these technologies could make the earth a paradise if developed for humane ends.

    Albert Einstein said: "The release of atom power has changed everything except our way of thinking...the solution to this problem lies in the heart of mankind. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker."

    The same is true for robotics, biotech, and the rest. Even smart networked watches. :-)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      And he was wrong.
      Sorry, but we use Atomic power fro a lot more peaceful ends then harmful.
      We know how terrible they are, and as such strive for diplomacy.
      Ironic, if countries without nuclear weapons would stop trying to build nuclear weapon, eventually they would go away.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        If we use atomic power for more peaceful ends than harmful (like in medicine, or for structural analysis with x-rays), it is precisely because of aspects of the collective human heart that Einstein referred to. A lot of people out there are trying. But it might have been hard to imagine that in the 1940s. Examples are in this book:
        "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement In the World Came Into Being and Why No One Saw it Coming"
        http://www.blessedunrest.com/ [blessedunrest.com]
        "Paul Hawken has spent over a decad

    • by fm6 ( 162816 )

      "Post scarcity". Is that geekspeak for "technology will fix everything"?

      If you figure out a way for technology to eliminate the scarcity of something as simple as water [whyfiles.org], then I will begin to take this concept seriously. Until then, it's more Wired Magazine nonsense, totally disconnected from the real world.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      The biggest issue of the 21st century is post-scarcity technology wielded by people still preoccupied with fighting over perceived scarcity.

      Some things may not be scarce with the advancement of technology, but I would say it would certainly take a pretty big leap in technology to make the land between Israel and Palistine "non-scarce" (for example).

  • This stuff... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anachragnome ( 1008495 ) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @08:07PM (#28368025)

    This stuff needs to be treated like nuclear weapons in terms of international condemnation. It is much harder to determine if a rogue country is trying to build such technology and is therefore MORE dangerous then nuclear weapons.

    Drone weaponry, especially the microscopic crap they are dreaming about (but seriously working on), are just as dangerous as biological weaponry. Borders will mean nothing to the people that have this capability.

    I don't care if it IS us that will have this technology. It needs to be stopped before we have ourselves another Cold-War, or worse, a real war.

    I don't trust ANYONE with this tech.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by geekoid ( 135745 )

      GO live in a cave.

      This tech works both ways.
      And they are controlled, so yeah, borders will matter.

    • by radtea ( 464814 )

      Borders will mean nothing to the people that have this capability.

      But everyone will have this technology, including the Timothy McVeigh clone down the street who thinks some strange collective entity he calls "the gubmint" should be attacked by force of arms. He will therefore send these assassination machines out to kill government functionaries, as for some reason he thinks his imagined nemesis, "the gubmint", is somehow associated with the government.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by lennier ( 44736 )

        So then his drones will fight the government drones, and the TV newsdrones will be recording it, and then the SWAT drones will turn up, and then the blogger drones, and before you know it some smart-alec kid's wearing an EVA-01 suit and that's when things get *really* out of hand.

    • i view this as the enemy of peace, not the maintainer of it

      a military technological development which leads to the inability of nations and states to maintain their integrity and borders seems like a good development to me

      the world needs to move into a post-nationalistic world. so bring on the military technology which would destroy national integrity and borders. these are artificial constructs which render decisions based on tribalism and ethnocentrism. destroy all nations

  • Inquiring minds [npr.org] want to know!

  • Wake me when we're fighting cyberwars in cyberspace with cybersoldiers.
  • Sounds like someone's been reading some culture novels, and instead of taking away some of the philosophy about responsibility and human interaction, they thought 'Wow! Knife drones are cool!'
  • After I RTFA, I started to think of other uses of drones; fighting fires, spraying crops, search and reconnaissance of folks that got lost, and cargo transporting. If the military makes a working robot solder, I can see a lot theft happening. House Wives, and College students in dormitories would be the primary suspects. I can see the Joint Chiefs of Staff's indignity of watching their armies of vandalized T1000's mopping a floors, baking cookies, cleaning bathrooms, tending gardens, and the dreaded vacu

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