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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 maverick85wd on 11/8/2007 4:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that war is a terrible thing and that loss of life is part of it. I have had people close to me die in Iraq and wish they were still here more than anything.

That being said, I think a loss of life is somewhat important to the whole war concept. It puts a price on declaring war. If you have a bunch of robots go in and kill the enemy, losing hardly any allied lives, how easy would it be to just declare war on whoever for whatever reasons? A major part of declaring war is the consideration of is what we are doing worth the lives of some of our countrymen? Is it worth the lives of a few million dollars worth of robots is entirely different and easier to accept. Consider another country getting robots as well, then us declaring war on each other. Would it stop when the robots have destroyed each other? Doubtful. Who knows.... perhaps the government will use them responsibly...

Do not get me wrong. I am in the military myself and am all for preserving the life of my comrades... just looking at things from a different angle.


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