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Robotics The Military Hardware

US Navy Developing App-Summoned Robotic Helicopter 69

Zothecula writes "We may be closer to the day when United States Marines will, within a matter of minutes, use a handheld app to summon robotic helicopters to deliver battlefield supplies. On Tuesday, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) announced its five-year, US$98 million Autonomous Aerial Cargo Utility System (AACUS) program, with the specific aim of developing 'sensors and control technologies for robotic vertical take-off and landing aircraft.'" Last month we covered NATO's robotic helicopter, the K-MAX.
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US Navy Developing App-Summoned Robotic Helicopter

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  • Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonch ( 38532 ) * on Thursday January 12, 2012 @07:59PM (#38679868)

    Robots, making war easier for the public to swallow. It's less icky to wage war when you can send robots instead of people. But of course, these will only be used to "deliver battlefield supplies." Wink.

  • Re:Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:09PM (#38679984)

    Karmawhoring with veiled anti-war sarcasm is always effective on slashdot, so I don't blame you. But really though, war is about maximizing tactical and strategic advantages, be it the bow and arrow, be it armor, be it castles, be it gunpowder, be it airplanes. What's the alternative, stagnation? Relinquishing war while others do not?

  • Correct headline (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sakdoctor ( 1087155 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:14PM (#38680054) Homepage

    US Navy developing remote controlled robotic helicopter.

    Let's not start pretending that an "app" is a real thing, distinct from technologies which already existed.

  • It never ends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by fullback ( 968784 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:15PM (#38680070)

    The technology of endless wars, one after another. How about a handheld app to deliver medical or other emergency supplies to accidents, natural disasters, etc.?

    Ask an American to rattle off a chronology of American history and the time unit will be wars. War after war. Ask them to describe American culture and you'll get a blank stare.

  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:44PM (#38680438)

    How about ... medical or other emergency supplies to accidents, natural disasters, etc.?

    You mean, the way the US military regularly and directly does all around the world, and likewise supports/provides security as others do?

    The technology of endless wars

    All the technology does is make conflict less capriciously deadly in ways that don't get the job done. What you're really bitching about is the fact that the world isn't entirely done, yet, with having conflicts like those in the Balkans or the middle east impact the rest of the world. You're annoyed that places like North Korea would, in fact, immediately roll their special kind of socialist paradise right over South Korea if they weren't sure that Really Bad Military Things would happen to them. I'm sorry that annoys you. Do you have another proposal for containing them? Would you prefer a lower-tech approach, and just line up more troops on the ground, and perhaps some mounted cavalry, to confront their long-range artillery? Maybe some a nice four-mast wooden ship or two to confront the sub they used to sink a South Korean naval vessel?

    Ask them to describe American culture and you'll get a blank stare.

    How would you describe European culture? Thousands of years of war, there. Perhaps African culture? Eons of tribal butchery. The Far East? Central Asia? Please, do go on.

  • by qxcv ( 2422318 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @08:53PM (#38680548)

    But this *is* distinct from current technologies. TFA says that the navy want the helicopter to land automatically as close as possible to the soldier. Given that it will probably be landing under heavy fire and in difficult terrain, this is no small feat. It's not an app to "fly a helicopter", it's an app to tell a helicopter to fly itself, and the latter part is what's so exciting.

  • Re:Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by inhuman_4 ( 1294516 ) on Thursday January 12, 2012 @10:22PM (#38681400)

    So if you are a soldier and you see someone, how sure are you going to be that they are not a civilian before you shoot?

    Yes, because it's so trivial to program such a quick response into a robot?

    if (object == enemy) { kill(); } else { candy(); }

    No actually it is quite a difficult task. How difficult depends on how how much time you have and how accurate you need the system to be.

    Humans can be very accurate. Unfortunately in combat they have almost no time, if you wait too long to make a decision it could cost you your life. This means they get it wrong an awful lot of the time. Robots are not really that accurate (for now at least), but they have lots of time because they are expendable.

    The reason robots can work is not because the task is easy, but because the bar has been set so low. The robot can have lot and lots of false negatives (ie. doesn't shoot enemies) because no one cares if the robots dies. On the flip side if its positive ids are wrong half the time (ie. 50% of the people it kills are innocent), that is still 5 times better than a human.

  • Re:Robots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wdef ( 1050680 ) on Friday January 13, 2012 @05:34AM (#38683730)

    The point of war is not to die for your side, but to make the other guy die for his.

    Not quite right. The point of war is to maim and wound the other side's guys, not kill. This is because every maimed and wounded soldier sucks up many times his own resources in being evacuated and cared for. There are figures for this and it came up not long ago on /..

    The following analogy occurs to me. The most effective disease does not kill its host, at least not too quickly, before it can spread to new hosts while burning out the original host's resources. So the best (worst) war is an effective disease.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_