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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 Darkskypoet on 11/8/2007 2:56:39 PM , Rating: 3
I disagree wholeheartedly. In case you haven't noticed, no two major powers have fought anything other then satellite wars since WW2. In fact, I'd hazard to guess that we more then likely won't see another major power war for quite some time. (Economic collapse, or threat thereof being the only thing possibly dragging a certain missile shield toting Hegemon into one.)

So in essence, eventually the US / EU / Russia / China, won't have to worry about a Mogadishu line scenario if sacking a small state. However, said small state will have to fight humans to robots, much like they do currently in the suicide bomber vs smart bomb era of asymmetrical warfare.

Also, its a damn fine way to make sure that every goddamn satellite you own in the sky is taken down. Considering technology proliferation, It would not surprise me if states subject to such attacks simply started popping satellites. Considering that other states will want to counter such remote attacks as they are not stupid and realize just what lack of body bags can do to embolden a democracy (sane or not) in terms of warfare.

So again, I wholeheartedly disagree. The nations fielding such tech more then likely will not fight each other as they have no economic incentive to do so, and the conceivable powers that might achieve such a level of automation already possess the very powerful nuclear deterrent.

In essence, they will be used on small states, in small wars, that never seem to turn out right for any of the major powers. (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanastan1, Afghanastan2, etc) Considering how bad the Major powers are at fighting Asymmetrical wars in person, I doubt their abilities to do so at range will be any better. Furthermore, bots don't win hearts and minds, much the same as carpet bombing B52's don't either.

RE: Playing with fire
By joust on 11/9/2007 12:54:13 AM , Rating: 5
If we don't develop this technology, someone else will beat us to it and we'll find ourselves at a comparative disadvantage.

Even if we say we're not developing new military technologies they might not believe us. Regardless, who wouldn't like to seize the upper hand? You get buffer states, security, a nice place in the world hierarchy, etc.

When are wars more likely? When one side will utterly crush the other, or when the two are evenly matched? Countries are rational and when it's obvious they'll lose, they won't go to war. If one thinks it has a fighting chance, then, well... you know what might happen.

I hope the US never loses it's dominance in my lifetime, if only to avoid seeing a hegemonic war. Hegemonic wars are the BIG wars. They reorder the hierarchy of nations and occur when a hegemon loses power. If/when the US loses hegemonic power, it'll be a brutal struggle, on the order of World Wars I or II.

To avoid seeing such a war, a realistic pacifist ought to be in favor of keeping our armed forces so strong nobody will challenge us. It's not merely a matter of patriotism, not ideology, not arrogance that drives this, but rational, logical decision making.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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