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BAE Systems Black Knight   (Source: Defense Update)
BAE Systems' Black Knight is a formidable weapon for the battlefield

In early October, DailyTech brought you the story of Foster-Miller's MAARS (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System). The MAARS followed in the footsteps of previous battlefield robots like the REDOWL PakBot and the SUGV Early.

The 300-pound MAARS, on the other hand, brought serious firepower and technology to the table. The MAARS features a M240B Medium Machine Gun and uses GPS tracking to reduce the risk of friendly fire.

While the MAARS is an impressive piece of machinery, BAE Systems is taking battlefield robots to the next level with its Black Knight. The Black Knight is a semi-autonomous 9.5 ton tank based on the Bradley fighting vehicle.

The Black Knight can be controlled from the traditional commander's station or by remote control via the Dismounted Control Device (DCD). Due to its advanced programming, the Black Knight can also autonomously plan routes and avoid obstacles without user intervention.

When it comes to the Black Knights armament, human intervention is required to fire rounds (thankfully). Considering that the Black Knight is armed with a 30mm gun and a coaxial machine gun, it's good to know that this tank won't be rolling around firing at anything that moves.

BAE Systems detailed how admirably the Black Knight performed during a demonstration in early 2007.

"While the Bradley Technology Demonstrator was engaging an enemy target from cover in a support by fire position, the Black Knight was able to autonomously move to a covered position and observe the target, using its sensor package to provide battle damage assessment data back to the Bradley," explained BAE Systems.

"If the enemy target needed to be re-engaged, the Black Knight could effectively neutralize the target, but the command to fire would always be made by a remote Soldier and only after the data necessary to make positive identification is received."

It may be years before such potent machinery is available for use on actual battlefields, however.

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RE: Playing with fire
By 16nm on 11/8/2007 2:55:39 PM , Rating: 2
With machines like the one above, I can see a future when wars are fought without deaths on either side. When your robot forces are defeated, you simply throw up your hands and surrender...realizing how useless it would be continue in a "conventional" manner.

I can never see this happening. Civilians would become the target. No country or organization will accept defeat because they lost a bunch of stinking robots. War would not be war if both sides are just losing robots to one another. It would be hard to convince your opponent to see your point of view because you destroyed a bunch of robots. Wipe out half their population and things will change. Look at 9/11. We lost 3000 civilians and things have never been the same. That impacted us and only now do we take al qaeda seriously. Before 9/11, al qaeda was considered a joke by our intelligence agencies, incapable of ever pulling anything like this off.

Robots are an advantage when only one side is using them. Robot war makes zero sense.

RE: Playing with fire
By Ringold on 11/8/2007 3:15:37 PM , Rating: 1
That impacted us and only now do we take al qaeda seriously.

Some of us still do at least.

Before 9/11, al qaeda was considered a joke by our intelligence agencies,

Not quite; I saw a special on History Channel earlier this year about a team in the CIA that was absolutely fanatical about the threat posed by Osama and his group long before anyone else had really paid him any heed. It was primarily the top brass and Bill Clinton who treated Al Qaeda as a joke, or at least not something serious enough to spend political capital in tackling.

It was really rather depressing; we had a huge number of opportunities to kill and capture him and almost every time it was called off by the lawyers or politicians.

Other then that, I generally agree, as posted above. Robots slaughtering whole cities, now that might get people to budget slightly. Slightly.

RE: Playing with fire
By masher2 on 11/8/2007 3:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
> "Civilians would become the target"

If one simply wants to slaughter civilians wholesale, we already have a much more effective means of doing so-- nuclear weapons.

> "Robots are an advantage when only one side is using them"

That's just the point. Even if both sides have them at the start of a conflict, at some point only one will have any remaining. They then have the advantage.

RE: Playing with fire
By juuvan on 11/28/2007 5:09:42 AM , Rating: 2
using nuclear weapons have this nasty side effect of making the demolished ground unusable for own troops.

These weapons are usable only in open ground with easy to ride terrain. Try use one of these in Europe, where are rivers, canals, mountains, swamps etc, or Siberia where there is nothing but trees to see :)

One skilled guerrilla group take a squadron of these down in a minute, unless they have some sort of support troops, which kinda voids the unmanned issue.

bordering the southern border of US would be the only place to use these.

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