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iRobot PackBot
Army wants 30% of force to be robotic by 2020

Science fiction fans raised on a steady diet of Terminator and Star Wars films have very specific ideas about what a robot on the battlefield would look like. The reality of military robots is that all of them require a human to operate, often with a joystick and a computer.

As far as the military is concerned, anything from an autonomous vehicle to a remote controlled observation drone could be considered a robot. The U.S. Military is using robots at an ever increasing pace for all sorts of tasks. One of the most common military robots is the iRobot PackBot. The PackBot can be configured for different uses including bomb detection. Another war robot called the SWORD can actually carry weapons into battle, though the SWORD has not been deployed yet at this time.

A pair of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis -- Doug Few and Bill Smart -- say that the military goal is to have approximately 30% of the Army comprised of robots by 2020. Smart says, "When the military says 'robot' they mean everything from self-driving trucks up to what you would conventionally think of as a robot. You would more accurately call them autonomous systems rather than robots."

The researchers and other supporters of robots in the military point out that all of the robots currently in service are teleoperated by people remotely. The reason to keep people controlling the robots rather than making the totally autonomous is so that the human operator has to make the decision and analyze the situation before shots are fired. This is to prevent any accidental shootings attributed to a robot and help eliminate the fear that robots could commit war crimes.

Smart says, "It's a chain of command thing. You don't want to give autonomy to a weapons delivery system. You want to have a human hit the button. You don't want the robot to make the wrong decision. You want to have a human to make all of the important decisions."

Few is also working on the relationship between the human operator and the robot in an attempt to make controlling the robot more natural and easy. Being able to control the robot easily and keep eyes on the environment in a war zone is paramount to operator safety.

One method Few is working on to make controlling robots more natural is integrating the Nintendo Wii motion controller into the operating system. This allows the robot to be controlled by the operator without the need for a laptop or screen and allows the soldier to operate the robot and still watch his environment for the enemy.

Smart explains, "We forget that when we're controlling robots in the lab it's really pretty safe and no one's trying to kill us. But if you are in a war zone and you're hunched over a laptop, that's not a good place to be. You want to be able to use your eyes in one place and use your hand to control the robot without tying up all of your attention."

While viewing an iRobot PackBot destroyed in combat after defusing a bomb, Few says he came to a realization. "When I stood there and looked at that PackBot, I realized that if that robot hadn't been there, it would have been some kid," said Few. Replacing the human in some of the most dangerous tasks on the battlefield -- like defusing bombs -- is one of the best uses for military robots in many eyes.



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30% of the Army, eh?
By therealnickdanger on 8/5/2008 12:37:31 PM , Rating: 3
No one will notice. Marines do all the fighting anyway!

LOL




RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By TheSpaniard on 8/5/2008 12:51:33 PM , Rating: 2
first in and last out


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By 325hhee on 8/5/2008 1:19:16 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't it, first to go, last to know? Army always get the credit because they're there longer, the Marines, do all the hard work and rarely gets recognize. It's the Marines that busts the doors open, make a camp, and the Army comes in and holds it indefinitely, so they're seen more to the public :(

Jarheads FTW


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By headbox on 8/5/2008 5:43:09 PM , Rating: 3
Let's see...

Viet Nam, first battle involved US Army Air Cav.

Grenada, first secured by 75th Rangers - US Army.

Panama, first secured by Green Berets, 82nd Airborne (Army) 75th Rangers (Army) and Navy SEALs

Gulf War 1- first attack was by 101st Airborne (Army) Apaches

Gulf War 2- Army captured Baghdad

Afghanistan- Green Berets (Army) lead assault.

Let's not forget the Army had to do the Marines job of an amphibious landing on D-Day and many of the Pacific island invasions of WW2.

Marines first in? When? LOL!


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By LuxFestinus on 8/6/2008 1:05:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Marines first in? When? LOL!


Maybe when they are busy retreating aka advancing in another direction?


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By foolsgambit11 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Samus on 8/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By elgueroloco on 8/11/2008 11:25:06 PM , Rating: 2
The Marines may do it the "toughest," but that's because the institutional mentality and battle planning of the Marine Corps tends to be foolhearty and results in unnecessary casualties.

The Army might construct a battle plan like this: First the Air Force bombs stuff, then we get in a little closer and maybe shell it or have the Navy hit it with Tomahawks, and then we go in and mop up what's left.

Here's a Marine battle plan: Hey diddle diddle, right up the middle. Hoorah!

Don't get me wrong. Marines are very well trained and good at what they do, as individuals. It's the Corps mentality that's all screwed up.


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/5/2008 12:53:47 PM , Rating: 5
Silly imperials...

Those battle droids and their fancy energy shields are nothing compared to a good old fashioned lightsaber and the power of the force.


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Ammohunt on 8/5/2008 1:42:44 PM , Rating: 1
Thats why they are known as Bullet Stopers.


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By rippleyaliens on 8/5/2008 3:56:17 PM , Rating: 1
UH RAR---
Get some baby.. that made my day READING that commet..

Why so serious..


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By DASQ on 8/6/2008 2:59:40 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps this is because I am not American, but I'm pretty sure it's pronounced 'Ooh Rah'. UH RAR sounds like some kind of custom file extension.


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Omega215D on 8/5/2008 4:04:29 PM , Rating: 3
But in the future when the wars will be fought in outer space or atop a very tall mountain most of the fighting will be done by robots.

It is our duty to build and maintain those robots.

(not word for word but I'm sure you simpsons fans will notice).


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Jedi2155 on 8/6/2008 1:33:53 AM , Rating: 2
I think I'll probably doing this sometime in the future. :)


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Omega215D on 8/6/08, Rating: -1
RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By Samus on 8/7/08, Rating: 0
RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By nugundam93 on 8/6/2008 9:42:07 AM , Rating: 2
Virtual On fans might yet see this come true. hehehe...

gimme me my Dorkas or Grys-Volk. :)


RE: 30% of the Army, eh?
By cheetah2k on 8/5/2008 8:57:56 PM , Rating: 2
Game On!


Danger of teleoperation
By AnnihilatorX on 8/5/2008 1:24:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The researchers and other supporters of robots in the military point out that all of the robots currently in service are teleoperated by people remotely.


With teleoperation, you run into risks of signal jamming (to disable) or even hijacking.
The hardware and software needs to be build with absolute highest cyber security standards.
If someone successfully captured a device, one can reverse engineer and probably devise radio signals that can hijack other robots. The feasibility all depends on the design of the robot and radio encryption scheme.




RE: Danger of teleoperation
By TheSpaniard on 8/5/2008 1:50:41 PM , Rating: 2
I thought we had this discussion before about hijacking.... IE: not feasable


RE: Danger of teleoperation
By TheSpaniard on 8/5/2008 2:08:51 PM , Rating: 2
also from the way they describe usage in this article, the robots in usage are attached to squads and therefore you will just have a continuation of the motto "never leave a man behind" to "never leave anything behind"


By CascadingDarkness on 8/6/2008 6:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure there's going to be guys risking their lives to save Johnny. The whole reason he's there is to die instead of a human.

It's much more likely explosives will be planted, or airstrike called in to destroy the tech before the enemy can capture it.

The real debate is if Johnny 5 is alive by military standards. (I'd say likely not since that's pretty much the premise of the entire first movie)


RE: Danger of teleoperation
By spluurfg on 8/5/2008 3:47:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
With teleoperation, you run into risks of signal jamming (to disable) or even hijacking.


I'm willing to bet that this has occurred to them at some point.


RE: Danger of teleoperation
By StevoLincolnite on 8/5/2008 4:50:42 PM , Rating: 2
This is quite interesting, Anyone with a Home Network will know that if you have a network that uses the 2.4ghz frequency (802.11g), you will also know the dangers of Cordless Phones, Wireless Xbox Controllers and the Almighty Cordless phone causing all sorts of interference, and connection drop-outs.

Simple Fix? Jump onto the next Frequency of 5ghz. (802.11n for example), if they could do that on the fly when they start noticing signal degradation then switch over, or if they loose a connection change Frequency and connect back to the bot.


RE: Danger of teleoperation
By Jedi2155 on 8/6/2008 1:37:01 AM , Rating: 2
The old 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands were former military frequencies that have since been allowed for civilian use...I'm sure they have plenty of other bands in use.


Making a robot army is really easy. Trust me!
By R0B0Ninja on 8/5/2008 2:33:11 PM , Rating: 1
Hey, making 20% of the army robotic is easy.

quote:
As far as the military is concerned, anything from an autonomous vehicle to a remote controlled observation drone could be considered a robot.


Just mass-produce lots of lego-mindstorm robots. They are cheap, autonomous vehicles, and even kids can put them together. Hell, making 20% of the army consist of robots is easy. Of cause, these robots wont carry any armament. They'll just scare the heck out of the enemy.




By Smartless on 8/5/2008 3:31:19 PM , Rating: 2
Hey don't give the suicide bombers any ideas. All they really need is a pack of C4 and a Tyco Radio Control truck.


RE: Making a robot army is really easy. Trust me!
By Raidin on 8/6/2008 6:42:14 PM , Rating: 2
A suicide bomber wouldn't do that.


RE: Making a robot army is really easy. Trust me!
By hadifa on 8/7/2008 12:30:30 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
... pack of C4 and a Tyco Radio Control truck


quote:
A suicide bomber wouldn't do that.


Unless he's on the truck as well.


By Raidin on 8/8/2008 4:58:35 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly!

Now there's a sight to see!


ASIMO + M16 = Asiminator
By mkruer on 8/5/2008 3:00:56 PM , Rating: 3
The military should contact Honda about their ASIMO. Give that little guy an M16, and I don't know about you, but that would scare the hell out of me.




RE: ASIMO + M16 = Asiminator
By elessar1 on 8/5/2008 3:26:05 PM , Rating: 2
Sad fact: Asimo runs on batterys for less than an hour (40mins app)...

So...if you see an ASIMO armed coming after you at a "whopping" 6 Km/Hr... you just have to run and wait till it run out off juice and then you can walk out with a "million dolar robot"... ;)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asimo

Cheers!!!

elessar


By Seemonkeyscanfly on 8/5/2008 5:15:30 PM , Rating: 2
add turbo and an extension cord (2 or 3 miles should do the trick). :)


RE: ASIMO + M16 = Asiminator
By WhatAbout on 8/6/2008 10:01:21 AM , Rating: 2
Just run down the stairs:

Honda Asimo takes a nasty fall:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTlV0Y5yAww


James Cameron would be proud.
By PCXLFan on 8/5/2008 1:25:26 PM , Rating: 2
I can't wait till the military uses CyberDyne cyborg grandmothers outfitted cybernetic exoskeletons in their campaigns.

Or at the very least I'll no longer need to help grandma open that open that jar of strawberry jam.

http://technology.newscientist.com/article/dn14457...
http://www.cyberdyne.jp/english/

p.s. check the before passing off this comment.




RE: James Cameron would be proud.
By MrBungle123 on 8/5/2008 1:59:26 PM , Rating: 2
They should develop a robot that mimics the capibilites of a player in any of the UT series of games... then give it a gun and let the twitch gamers have at it.

What would you do against an army of soldiers that run 35mph, jump 20 feet into the air, and are completely unphased by little things like getting shot?


By rdeegvainl on 8/5/2008 3:04:23 PM , Rating: 4
send the kids playing them on xbox to bed, cause it is past 9?


#5
By DeepBlue1975 on 8/5/2008 1:04:37 PM , Rating: 2
The Packbot reminds me of #5, the robot from ShortCircuit :D

Make it yell "Need more data" and you'll have a funny war machine.
Who said killing and fun are not compatible?
Just ask the serial numberer next door. But better ask him over a telephone if you don't wanna be part of his fun.




Scary....
By 306maxi on 8/5/2008 1:20:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One method Few is working on to make controlling robots more natural is integrating the Nintendo Wii motion controller into the operating system. This allows the robot to be controlled by the operator without the need for a laptop or screen and allows the soldier to operate the robot and still watch his environment for the enemy.


Scary thought. A bunch of people swinging Wii motes around like crazy killing people for real. Then your Wii tells you that you're
A) Crap at killing
B) Getting there
C) Deadly
D) War hero
E) War criminal




Isn't this....
By benx009 on 8/6/2008 10:59:01 PM , Rating: 2
Isn't this what Snake & co. were trying to avoid in MGS4...?
:P




By Dobs on 8/6/2008 4:05:03 AM , Rating: 1
It's only the Smart Few that will notice the surnames of the people quoted and then use this in some witty comment....

ummm... anyone?




*BOOOM*
By Frallan on 8/6/2008 5:04:51 AM , Rating: 1
BiBiBidebeeeepehhhh.....

*Game OVer*

To continue insert another 2,000,000 coins.




A dangerous development.
By Amiga500 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: A dangerous development.
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/5/2008 2:01:52 PM , Rating: 2
Last I checked, the "brake" is nuclear weapons...

It's not so much that some nations would be morally opposed to plundering (though some might be), but more importantly it's an international consensus among the most powerful nations that if such plundering were to occur, nobody would be able to decide on a common outcome. This would only mean one thing -- nuclear war.

For this reason big nations tend not to attack little ones in the last few decades (or do so very underhandedly) for fear that they would be creating a conflict that would escalate to a nuclear standoff.

If this wasn't the case, Korea + Taiwan would be official Japanese provinces now.


RE: A dangerous development.
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/5/2008 2:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
And by Japanese I meant Chinese >_> though I suppose Japan would want them too (although it doesn't exactly have a military so to speak).


RE: A dangerous development.
By DASQ on 8/6/2008 3:03:57 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that they don't have a military (they have a half decent one), they just are not allowed to use it for 'external relations' so to speak (See: Article 9, Constitution of Japan)

They ARE called the Self-Defense Force.


RE: A dangerous development.
By Amiga500 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
RE: A dangerous development.
By EricMartello on 8/5/2008 5:07:29 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Last I checked, the "brake" is nuclear weapons...

It's not so much that some nations would be morally opposed to plundering (though some might be), but more importantly it's an international consensus among the most powerful nations that if such plundering were to occur, nobody would be able to decide on a common outcome. This would only mean one thing -- nuclear war.

For this reason big nations tend not to attack little ones in the last few decades (or do so very underhandedly) for fear that they would be creating a conflict that would escalate to a nuclear standoff.

If this wasn't the case, Korea + Taiwan would be official Japanese provinces now.


Get with the times...plundering is so pre-19th century. Today we usurp!

Nukes are not the only consideration...China won't take over the surrounding asian countries because the US wouldn't like that...but...China is slowly sapping America's power via WalMart. Americans have come to expect such low prices for everything, that a slight increase in monthly expenses puts the typical American family into financial ruin. From there it is a trickle-down effect like we have today. A bad economy means we can't afford to keep our expensive military going, and you can bet that China isn't going to lend us money to maintain our military if we choose to fight them.

Will we launch a few nukes as a last resort? I dunno, ask Matthew Broderick...he has experience hacking DoD missle systems.


RE: A dangerous development.
By Amiga500 on 8/5/08, Rating: -1
"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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