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Posted on Oct 13, 2009 in Stuff We Like

Robots To Share Load in Warfare?

By Brian King

After watching and reading numerous stories in the news about the problems the US military and its allies are having in Afghanistan, you can’t help but wonder why we aren’t spending some of our hard earned cash on upping the ante on military robotics.  In one recent firefight at a remote outpost, some estimates are that a billion dollars in ordnance were spent defending the tiny base over the course of just one battle.  Instead of risking life and limb of our soldiers, some of whom are in firefights almost every day, and many more are exposed to the constant and increasing risk of IEDs on supply routes – why don’t we have more automated systems taking over in some of these highly dangerous situations?


Imagine a remote outpost manned by humans, but surrounded by automatic turrets which can whittle down an enemy before they get close enough to harm the base itself.  Imagine a convoy of trucks driving itself over dangerous roads.  Imagine bee sized robots flying into enemy formations to mark them as targets for precision guided munitions delivered from afar.  Imagine…

This is the crux of the debate going on at the White House right now, though admittedly they probably aren’t thinking purely in terms of robots as taking over the load for humans.  Instead, the plan put forth calls for more UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), more use of precision guided munitions, and fewer overall combat troops.  To my knowledge nothing has been mentioned about robots taking over for humans.  But this discussion is at least happening in some quarters of the military.

Know of other possible applications of robots in the military?  Please share in the comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Taking the load off the troops? Unless doing so clearly demonstrates an indisputable tatical advantage AND the “right” people support it, it is unlikely that the soldier or Marine will actually be allowed such a luxury. The robot “big dog” will simply be used as a vehicle to carry more stuff, not the same amount of stuff. I would love to have someone else carry my pack… but I would never want to separated from my pack either. In any case the “big dog” will likely be used as a reconnaisance/search and weapons platform rather than merely as a pack mule. That’s my guess.


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