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Foster-Miller MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System)  (Source: Wired's Danger Room)

  (Source: Wired's Danger Room)
Foster-Miller's MAARS system cuts down on friendly-fire accidents

The advancement of battlefield robots is progressing nicely at the Department of Defense. iRobot has already showcased its REDOWL-equipped PackBot which can detect enemy gunfire and the company's SUGV Early is a lightweight variant which is "backpackable."

Foster-Miller is upping the ante a bit with its new MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System) robot which aims to eliminate – or at least drastically reduce -- friendly-fire accidents. The 350-pound MAARS uses sophisticated software and GPS positioning to determine where friendly soldiers are located on the battlefield. Once programmed into the MAARS, the robot's machine gun is prevented from aiming towards friendly positions.

According to the Danger Room, MAARS is likewise pre-programmed to not fire on its control station where a soldier controls the unit.

The MAARS is also highly configurable based on battlefield needs. The standard tracks can be swapped out for wheels should the unit need to operate strictly in urban environments. The M240B Medium Machine Gun can also be swapped out for a control arm to lift items (100 pound capacity) detect/defuse roadside bombs or drag wounded soldiers out harm's way.

"Foster-Miller is proud to introduce the new MAARS robot to the US Military personnel who risk their lives every day defending our freedom," stated Dr. William Ribich, President of QinetiQ's Technology Solutions Group.  "The challenge before us now isn’t technological in nature but rather the widespread training of our forces to use this greatly enhanced robotic capability."

Any machine that can keep human soldiers out of direct combat situations is welcomed by the military, so the upgraded fail-safes included with the MAARS is a welcome addition.

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RE: The Simpsons was right.
By Amiga500 on 10/9/2007 3:51:49 PM , Rating: 4
My problem with this is it removes one of the principal obstacles to a hawkish government/dictator (and I'm referring to ANY hypothetical country here) invading another country, or seizing power etc etc.

That obstacle is manpower, in a democracy the question is will i get re-elected, and for a dictator (or wannabe dictator), its where do I get the people, and how many do I dare give guns to (after all, a robot isn't going to overthrow its master just yet).

Basically, I'm worried that the proliferation of these robots will make it easier for those in power to make the decision to kill others and not worry about the consequences. Or it will make it easier for those in possession to obtain power through these.

RE: The Simpsons was right.
By MrPickins on 10/9/2007 5:32:51 PM , Rating: 3
Didn't you read the quote?

You'll still need men to build and maintain the robots...

RE: The Simpsons was right.
By Amiga500 on 10/9/2007 6:18:50 PM , Rating: 2
If they aren't in harms way then you don't need a continual supply of manpower, and you don't need to explain to mum, dad, wife or husband why their son/daughter/husband/wife is dead.

RE: The Simpsons was right.
By vortmax on 10/10/2007 12:32:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm hoping these won't be sold to any of those hypothetical countries, but if history is correct, it will probably happen...

RE: The Simpsons was right.
By wordsworm on 10/25/2007 12:20:08 AM , Rating: 2
My problem with this is it removes one of the principal obstacles to a hawkish government/dictator (and I'm referring to ANY hypothetical country here) invading another country, or seizing power etc etc.
You mean like what George Bush II and the USA are doing now? Luckily for the world, Iraq and Afghanistan haven't given up without a good fight. If they had, then I can't help but think that both Iran and North Korea would have puppet governments put in place that dance to the tune the USA dictates to it rather than being given the chance to evolve on their own.

The real danger to US troops is that if a computer can figure out how to not target American troops, then an enemy computer can be programmed to do the same thing.

Quite frankly, the real obstacle we're talking about removing is people's objection to their friends and family dying. I think with this element removed, America would be in the very real danger of losing all touch with the consequences of war. The public would simply lose interest beyond the financial ramifications. Even so, inevitably, manufacturing machines is a lot cheaper than training and feeding troops. They won't complain about lengthy deployments. Even in Michael Moore's film, I don't think he gave a damn about the Iraqi casualties of war. His only concern was the safety of American troops.

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