Skip to comments.Next generation military robots have minds of their own
Posted on 09/29/2012 4:31:11 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
A number of robots in development for the military are being given increasing amounts of autonomy. The question is now how they will be used.
But, despite widespread press about armed drones hunting down terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan and the increasing use of ground robots to fight roadside bombs, the truth is that most military robots are still pretty dumb. In fact, almost all unmanned systems involve humans in almost every aspect of their operationsits just that instead of sitting in a cockpit or behind the wheel of a vehicle, humans are operating the systems from a joystick or computer often at a remote base far from the action.
Now that is slowly beginning to change.
Next week, one of the Pentagons most commonly used robots will finally make baby steps toward greater autonomy. The PackBot, a tracked robot .. , will get a number of upgrades that will allows it to operate autonomously in some situations, according to Tim Trainer, a vice president for product management at iRobot, which makes the pint-sized bots.
Still, the autonomous capabilities will actually be fairly limited. In cases where the PackBot loses contact with its human operator, it will retrace its steps back to where it was when it last had communications. While seemingly simple, this small step toward autonomy is a critical improvement: in the past, if the robot lost communications while on its way to defuse a bomb, an explosive ordnance disposal technician would have go and retrieve it, potentially exposing the person to risk.
It should be made clear, the panel says, that all autonomous systems are supervised by human operators at some level, and autonomous systems software embodies the designed limits on the actions and decisions delegated to the computer.
(Excerpt) Read more at bbc.com ...
What could go wrong?
Man, if they can smarten up robots, put them to work on the admirals and generals.
At 2:14 Eastern Time, on August 29th 1997, SkyNet became self aware.
Robot goes to deal with IED. Operator tells robot to pick up IED so it can be transported elsewhere for disposal.
Jihadi then jams the control signal, and robot walks back to its operator (as it was pre-programmed to do), merrily carrying the IED...