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Angst Over Arming Robots
Strategy Page ^ | June 21, 2006

Posted on 06/21/2006 5:53:22 PM PDT by John Jorsett

Once American infantry got their hands on reliable, and portable, UGVs (unmanned ground vehicles), they did two things. First, they used their small robots as much as possible, especially for dangerous jobs like checking for roadside bombs, or bad guys lurking inside buildings or caves. The second thing the troops did was ask the UGV manufacturer to put weapons on the robots. So far, the Department of Defense has backed away from proposals to arm these MTRS (Man Transportable Robotic System), because of safety concerns. It's not that the armed robots would just be turned on, and turned lose. They would be controlled by their human operator, but there is a reluctance to having the troops equipped with an armed robot. Such systems are more prone to friendly fire incidents. But the troops want them, and the manufacturers of the robots, are spending their own money to develop armed versions of its UGVs.

One of these armed robots is the PakBot, made by iRobot. There are several models of Packbot, but the most popular job for these remote controlled vehicles (that look like a miniature tank, with an extendable arm where the turret should be) is checking out possible roadside bombs, or booby traps, or the insides of caves or buildings believed to hold hostile gunmen. For over a decade, there have been larger (over a hundred pounds) remote control vehicles like this for bomb squads. But better designs, and smaller electronics, have made the man-portable (under 50 pounds) units possible. Two years ago, there were several different MTRS systems in Afghanistan and Iraq, but the iRobot equipment has emerged as the most popular, and most effective. This means troops no longer have to get close to possible bombs, and risk getting blown up when nearby terrorists detonate the device.

But for combat use, PackBot has limitations. Human troops can move a lot faster, and speed is often more important than having an expendable trooper (the robot) in the lead. Armed with a weapon, say a shotgun for opening a locked door, the robot would be more useful. An armed robot would also be more effective when taking the lead in many urban combat situations. Currently, troops continue to find new uses for the unarmed version, like spotting snipers, standing guard and carrying remotely controlled explosives to targets covered by enemy fire. But to be really useful, the troops want armed droids.

Another MTRS manufacturer, Foster-Miller, has spent over a year convincing the Department of Defense to allow one of its armed (with a 5.56mm machine-guns and 200 rounds of ammo) Talon robots to be sent to Iraq for testing. The Talon IIIB is finally going, but it will be used as a 125 pound armed sentry, not a fifty pound combat droid. The PackBot is the kind of combat robot a soldier can carry to a window, through it in, and have it move around and check the place out.

So iRobot, and the troops, are trying to talk the Department of Defense into allowing battlefield tests of armed robots. It will probably happen, even if it makes a lot of people outside the combat zone nervous.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ai; anamericansoldier; bang; banglist; defense; military; miltech; robotics

1 posted on 06/21/2006 5:53:23 PM PDT by John Jorsett
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To: John Jorsett
Put down your weapon! You have 5 seconds to comply! 4 ... 3 ... 2 ...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

2 posted on 06/21/2006 5:54:29 PM PDT by John Jorsett (scam never sleeps)
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To: PatrickHenry; b_sharp; neutrality; anguish; SeaLion; Fractal Trader; grjr21; bitt; KevinDavis; ...
FutureTechPing!
An emergent technologies list covering biomedical
research, fusion power, nanotech, AI robotics, and
other related fields. FReepmail to join or drop.

3 posted on 06/21/2006 5:55:58 PM PDT by AntiGuv ("..I do things for political expediency.." - Sen. John McCain on FOX News)
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To: John Jorsett

4 posted on 06/21/2006 5:57:26 PM PDT by Shermy
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To: John Jorsett

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!


5 posted on 06/21/2006 5:57:47 PM PDT by RebelTex (Help cure diseases: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1548372/posts)
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To: John Jorsett
It will probably happen, even if it makes a lot of people outside the combat zone nervous.

Well, they are the ones who matter most... /s

6 posted on 06/21/2006 5:58:12 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater (The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.)
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To: John Jorsett

I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords!


7 posted on 06/21/2006 6:00:49 PM PDT by Arthalion
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To: Future Snake Eater

The only group nervous about combat robots are liberals. They will have no relatives to trot out like cindy sheehan.


8 posted on 06/21/2006 6:04:10 PM PDT by Sentis
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To: John Jorsett

There's no putting the toothpaste back in the tube.


9 posted on 06/21/2006 6:04:13 PM PDT by bkepley
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To: Arthalion

Skynet! John Connor.


10 posted on 06/21/2006 6:04:34 PM PDT by tet68 ( " We would not die in that man's company, that fears his fellowship to die with us...." Henry V.)
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To: John Jorsett

An armed UGV is a polite-ly treated- UGV!


11 posted on 06/21/2006 6:05:01 PM PDT by mrsmith
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To: tet68

Interesting topic bump and a big Semper fi, bro!


12 posted on 06/21/2006 6:06:09 PM PDT by dcwusmc (The government is supposed to fit the Constitution, NOT the Constitution fit the government!)
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To: John Jorsett
The age of the BOLO begins.

WikiPedia: BOLO

13 posted on 06/21/2006 6:07:45 PM PDT by irv
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To: John Jorsett
These 'robots' are not the autonomous machines envisioned by Asimov et al but remotely controlled devices, like an R- c toy with a weapon attached.
14 posted on 06/21/2006 6:12:02 PM PDT by jmcenanly
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To: tet68

If you look carefully you will find that Minuteman missiles are "robotic" in the sense of not being piloted. As were V-1s and V-2s. As are were WWII torpedos.


15 posted on 06/21/2006 6:23:54 PM PDT by Donald Meaker (Brother, can you Paradigm?)
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To: irv
Fuss and Trouble. I didn't know there were any other books than Bolo: The Annals of the Dinochrome Brigade.

Sections of that book can still bring tears to my eyes..."Was I a good boy...Daddy?"

Will have to hunt up the others.

Cheers!

16 posted on 06/21/2006 7:46:36 PM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
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To: John Jorsett

ping


17 posted on 06/21/2006 11:15:40 PM PDT by SR 50 (Larry)
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To: John Jorsett

18 posted on 06/21/2006 11:37:37 PM PDT by Skel (what?)
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To: John Jorsett

If guns for robots are outlawed, only outlaw robots will have guns.


19 posted on 06/22/2006 3:00:36 AM PDT by samtheman
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To: AntiGuv
"kin ah get me a huntin license heah?"


20 posted on 06/22/2006 5:37:22 AM PDT by bitt ("Land of the Free, because of the Brave...")
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To: bkepley

"There's no putting the toothpaste back in the tube."

True. What's a lot worse than armed robots, in my mind, is computers that are smarter than we are. But again, your comment applies.


21 posted on 06/22/2006 7:53:41 AM PDT by strategofr (H-mentor:"pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it"Hillary's Secret War,Poe,p.198)
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To: Donald Meaker

"As are were WWII torpedos."

As are bombs---except that one in the movie---that movie sort of like Failsafe, but humorous.


22 posted on 06/22/2006 7:55:47 AM PDT by strategofr (H-mentor:"pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it"Hillary's Secret War,Poe,p.198)
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To: Shermy

Classic!! Loved Brenner in that movie!


23 posted on 06/22/2006 7:56:18 AM PDT by LIConFem (It is by will alone I set my mind in motion...)
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To: strategofr

Dr Strangelove?


24 posted on 06/29/2006 10:04:21 AM PDT by Donald Meaker (Brother, can you Paradigm?)
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