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Robotics The Military Hardware

iRobot Demonstrates New Weaponized Robot 188

An anonymous reader writes "According to this IEEE story, iRobot and the US military have released video showing a weaponized version of iRobot's Warrior robot. In the video, the Warrior is seen firing a weapon system called the APOBS (Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System), a grenade-filled line propelled by a rocket and stabilized by a drogue parachute. This system is used to clear minefields and obstructed roads. The video shows soldiers deploying a Warrior with the APOBS mounted on its back. The robot fires the device, which lands along a dirt road, exploding after a few seconds. A voice is then heard, 'Road clear; proceed forward.'"

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iRobot Demonstrates New Weaponized Robot

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  • by TrentTheThief ( 118302 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:01PM (#32419460)

    It's probably not cost effective except for straight-line clearance operations (i.e., a road).

    You wouldn't want to try and clear several acres of field with this system as it would totally destroy the field. The purpose built systems are better suited for mine clearing. There's a continuing effort underway for mine clearing systems with an eye to small cost and high effectiveness and safety.

  • More Than Cows (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:02PM (#32419474) Homepage Journal

    These robots surely cost a lot more than running livestock across minefields to trigger the mines.

  • Re:Manual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:21PM (#32419788) Homepage

    Since they already have the weapon, but not the robot, I'm figuring they've tried the human-fired approach and found something wanting. I'm not certain, but seeing as how landmines are not exclusively used to deny territory to the enemy while nobody is watching it, but rather as an obstacle that slows and stops the enemy at conveniently chosen areas, and knowing some of the problems our soldiers have had over there... I'm guessing there's a good reason for robots, which can probably be summed up in two words:

    "Boom! Headshot!"

  • by mea37 ( 1201159 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:28PM (#32419890)

    Or... you know... just don't give your roomba a grenade launcher.

  • Re:Manual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OhPlz ( 168413 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:32PM (#32419952)

    I don't see why the robot is needed. A soldier could walk to where the known unmined area ends and fire this thingie.

    Perhaps it's clearing the way for a horde of other robots carrying anti-personnel weaponry? The military of the future may not need to put lives on the front-lines. I think we're seeing a glimpse of that with the air drones that are taking out terrorists via rockets.

  • by careysub ( 976506 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @12:55PM (#32420298)

    How much does one unit cost, and is this actually scalable and affordable for nations where there are landmines? ...

    It is pretty clear that this device is intended to support ground attack by a first world army against an adversary like Iraq (or some other country beginning with "I"?).

    Think about its specs - it is a robotic device deploying an explosive system for instantly clearing a lane through a mine field. You need an instant lane if you launching a time-critical operation (i.e. an attack), and a robot to deploy it if you expect to get shot at - i.e. you are in combat.

    A minefield clearing system for a third world country would probably be an armored flail system that can beat the earth of an entire field by methodically "mowing" it. This system would minimize collateral damage, be thorough, and inexpensive to operate (though the capital cost would be substantial).

  • by carp3_noct3m ( 1185697 ) <slashdot@warri o r s - s h a d e . net> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:29PM (#32420810)

    Yay, lets invent something that we already have (mine line clearing device, aka MICLIC) and put it ona robot, so much better! How about the fucking old grey haired bastards that are too pussy to fix our current wars snap out of their cold war mindset and start investing in things more applicable to our current situation. Oh yeah, I'm a USMC Iraq vet.

  • by slick7 ( 1703596 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:32PM (#32420844)
    the only thing missing is SKYNET, but I'm sure that it's lurking around some corner or in some dark alley.
  • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:51PM (#32421142) Homepage Journal

    This is a remote controlled car with a ridiculous rocket launcher on it. It costs $100k.

    Actually, it's a robot with a micro clusterbomb. But it's better than a cluster bomb because it's totally controllable, and it's a lot smaller and cheaper.

    You could do this with a $60 RC car from radio shack and a lot of duct tape -- just rig the firing button to the horn. Buy one with big wheels.

    You need more axes to control the weapon. You'd need at least a $500 RC car to have anything like reliability, and just one bullet hit would destroy it.

    For all the things we could be using actual robots for, this is pathetic, and a lot like a million-dollar fireworks show, circa Vietnam.

    It's a cool weapon, but not very exciting in terms of robot news. And by cool weapon I mean a great new way to kill people. Oh sure, it's for clearing roads, but it's for clearing roads so you can get to the next place where you're supposed to kill someone.

  • My cat was right (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:57PM (#32421218)
    It never did trust the Roomba.
  • Asimov (Score:2, Insightful)

    by feeble11 ( 1779624 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @01:58PM (#32421244)
    I'm all for blowing sh*t up but there is some sad irony that a company named iRobot is developing a weaponized robot while the man who wrote "I, Robot" also wrote the three laws of robotics forbidding fictional robots from harming humans.
  • by DaveV1.0 ( 203135 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @02:02PM (#32421296) Journal

    Oh really?

    The MICLIC system consists of an M353 3-1/2 ton or M200A1 2-1/2 ton trailer (or M200 tracked trailer) chassis, a launcher assembly, an M147 firing kit, an M58A3 line charge and a 5-inch MK22 Mod 4 rocket. The line charge is 350 feet long and contains 5 pounds per linear foot of composition C-4 explosive.

    I am sure you will want to set up that system to clear a road block, IED, etc. and risk taking fire.

    I would prefer to stay out of the line of fire and use a much smaller unit mounted on a robot that can be deployed from cover.

    The MICLIC is designed to be used by Engineer companies to clear paths through large mine fields. This unit is designed to be loaded aboard a HMMWV and taken out on patrol by squads.

    You say you are an USMC Iraq vet, but exactly did you do that you can not see the differences between these two pieces of equipment and the value of this piece of equipment to front line troops on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan?

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Tuesday June 01, 2010 @02:11PM (#32421408)

    You could do this with a $60 RC car from radio shack and a lot of duct tape -- just rig the firing button to the horn. Buy one with big wheels.

    The insurgents could just run to Radio Shack, pick up their own remote and push the horn button at an inappropriate time.

    I suspect that the iRobot Warrior is a standard platform to which they can bolt any number of interesting gizmos. In time and with greater production volumes, the price will come down. Perhaps the generals will have one model built that can caddy their golf clubs for them.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.