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  (Source: Gizmodo)
U.S. Army places three gun-toting robots in Iraq

When it comes to robots on the battlefield, the U.S. military has a virtual skunkworks of contraptions roaming the ground and air.

In December, DailyTech reported on the iRobot PackBot which can detect enemy AK-47 gunfire via its Robot Enhanced Detection Outpost with Lasers (REDOWL) system. Just a few months ago, iRobot showed off its SUGV Early (Small Unmanned Ground Vehicle) which weighs in at 30 pounds -- this is compared to 44 pounds for the iRobot PackBot.

The U.S. Army is stepping up things in the battlefield robot arena dramatically with its new Special Weapons Observation Remote reconnaissance Direct action System (SWORDS). Three SWORDS robots were deployed in Iraq and their capabilities put human soldiers out of harm’s way.

Each robot can carry up to three M249 machines guns which are controlled by a soldier through a remote terminal. This means that every shot fired will have to be approved by a human -- the robot will not start firing without prior authorization.

As of today, no shots have been fired by the robots on the battlefield.

"Anytime you utilize technology to take a U.S. service member out of harm’s way, it is worth every penny," said John Saitta of Smart Business Advisory and Consulting. "These armed robots can be used as a force multiplier to augment an already significant force in the battle space."

The Army is pleased with the three SWORDS robots that it now has, but has requested an additional 80 for combat use. Unfortunately for the Army, additional funding has not been approved for the purchase.

"As [soldiers] use them and like them, I’ve heard positive feedback, they want 20 more immediately. It’s a shame we can’t get them to them," said SWORDS program manager Michael Zecca.

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I'll take three
By TimberJon on 8/3/2007 11:32:22 AM , Rating: -1
Two to flank, and one to lead.

I want to see these run into an enemy area and decimate.

Maybe they need a bigger version that is heavier, with heavy armor, or at least shields that can withstand MG fire and swing out of the way of all the sensors. That way, if a grenade goes off near the thing, it will survive it.

Too big and it will just be an RPG target..

They need Rail guns, then we could fire through structures.
Many rounds currently can, but theyre expensive, and they cant go through too much concrete.

RE: I'll take three
By CascadingDarkness on 8/3/2007 1:27:52 PM , Rating: 1
Put down the pixie sticks kid. This isn't a sci-fi movie it's RL.

These are a great start, but you can't just right to huge intensely armored/armed robotics without learning along the way. I'm sure they'll improve with new models once these are field tested in a real battle zone.

RE: I'll take three
By augiem on 8/3/2007 1:31:01 PM , Rating: 2
It's kind of funny. You got voted down for being too enthusiastic about what EXACTLY what this robot is designed to do. Kill the enemy! (Why 3 machine guns then?) But when you came out and say it without putting some PC disclaimer like "Oh, we all know war is so terrible, but the potential to save lives with these robots..."

Your ideas are an evolution of the robot design and undoubtedly are being worked on along with others.

It just strikes me odd that a message board on a site full of very smart people have the knee-jerk reaction to vote you down because you're using a seeming callous tone or something.

Don't you just love the mind police?

RE: I'll take three
By stromgald on 8/3/2007 1:52:36 PM , Rating: 3
Maybe he got voted down because his whole post is RIDICULOUS. Rail guns would never work on something like that because of the power requirements. Building it to survive grenades and machine guns is equally ridiculous since we have trouble protecting humans, which can carry much more weight.

The post was more of a fantasy than anything remotely close to discussion of future evolution of the robot.

RE: I'll take three
By rippleyaliens on 8/3/2007 4:35:12 PM , Rating: 2
I got one quick one for all the members in this arena who have ever had to pull Guard DUTY,..
HAve a bunch of these on perimiter, 1. They never sleep
2. a soldier can control 4 of these. which means more rest for the soldier/marine.
More importantly, these things can go FIRST.. Up front.
I have had my 6 pulling the first man, and i tell you.. the thought of always being teh first one shot , is horrible.

I cant wait until they have like full size ones, from T3.. about 6-8ft tall, fully armored.. etc...
Sensors, the whole package.

RE: I'll take three
By JimFear on 8/7/2007 8:56:40 AM , Rating: 2
Humans are fleshy, shrapnel from grenades chew through fleshy things, the only reason human soldiers don't have massive armour on is because of mobility, I'm sure soldiers would be chuffed (and shot) to bits if they waddled around wearing bomb disposal armour.

They could and should develop armour for these robots that has a layer of armour then some synthetic fleshy armour filled with a resin (maybe that liquid kevlar stuff) that hardens on contact with air, a a grenade would go off piercing the armour but the resin would set in and harden up to give it that extra fighting chance. I wonder how resilliant they are to toppling too?

RE: I'll take three
By JonnyDough on 8/4/2007 5:25:03 AM , Rating: 2
No. I don't love the ratings systems. I think it's stupid, and many would agree. We don't need this form of secondary censorship.

"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein
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