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  • These robots....

    ... seem a bit crap.

    http://www.defenseone.com/technology...f=DefenseOneFB

    [I don't really like D1 as it's really pro-draft, but I follow it on FB.]

    The article is quite skeptical of the quadruped robots, made in cooperation with DARPA by a Google sub. It seems these mechanical mules are 'too loud' according to the Marines spokesman; but at least they have learnt that the technology is perhaps a bit too young for this purpose. What do you think? A waste of time and effort, a learning curve? Will we seen such robots hauling kit in the next ten years? Or perhaps wheels/tracks would be preferable?
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    'I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.' - Thomas Jefferson

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  • #2
    Two words. Emergent technology.

    I'd say yes. The thing that worries me is that we are not a peaceful species. I've been watching this with trepidation. War bots are coming and that doesn't bode well for most of us.
    Credo quia absurdum.


    Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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    • #3
      If there is still a military need for quadrupeds for transportation why not start using real mules again? Proven design, doesn't use fossil fuels, can be produced without the need for machine tools and skilled labour.
      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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      • #4
        I'd somewhat agree, but I think the US Army has a certain image it wants to portray, like all organisations it has a certain culture, and actual mules and donkeys wouldn't quite gel with the modern, technologically focused image.
        real animals would also bring other problems like dung, fodder, and they make their own noises when not wanted, western democracies are also quite sympathetic to animal deaths and wounding in combat and you'd get the 'poor innocent animals being used in man's wars' bit if there were much used and exposed to much danger.
        Having said that, it could well be they'll reconsider using real animals after this. It'd certainly be cheaper than an expensive robot.
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        'I would rather be exposed to the inconveniencies attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.' - Thomas Jefferson

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        • #5
          I think the technology will have a place in the military, just not yet. The incidence of back injuries from deployed troops carrying large loads is a real issue that takes qualified people out of the fight, which ultimately leads to disability ratings and medical costs passed on to an already overburdened (or mismanaged) VA system. Investing in technology that can mitigate/eliminate those injuries is a win-win for national defense in terms of troop readiness and monies that can be allocated for other needs.

          Here's a link for a research abstract on lower back pain in deployed troops: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23532119 - there were other factors, but carrying a heavy load for long periods of time was a significant factor.

          They are also developing human exoskeletons that will allow troops to carry heavy loads without developing the associated injuries: http://www.businessinsider.com/milit...eletons-2014-8.

          None of the technology is there yet, but its definitely coming.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Selous View Post
            I'd somewhat agree, but I think the US Army has a certain image it wants to portray, like all organisations it has a certain culture, and actual mules and donkeys wouldn't quite gel with the modern, technologically focused image.
            real animals would also bring other problems like dung, fodder, and they make their own noises when not wanted, western democracies are also quite sympathetic to animal deaths and wounding in combat and you'd get the 'poor innocent animals being used in man's wars' bit if there were much used and exposed to much danger.
            Having said that, it could well be they'll reconsider using real animals after this. It'd certainly be cheaper than an expensive robot.
            Human beings also bring problems like dung, fodder, and they make their own noises when not wanted (especially when nervous).
            Dogs are still used on the battlefield and they are regarded as animal heros.
            Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
            Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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            • #7
              Originally posted by MarkV View Post
              Human beings also bring problems like dung, fodder, and they make their own noises when not wanted (especially when nervous).
              Dogs are still used on the battlefield and they are regarded as animal heros.
              I don't particularly think that it would be a bad idea to use beasts of burden in some situations today. Particularly based on the above post by Biscuit. However, I do suspect that the problems of using mules would be seen as beyond the threshold of desirability as a solution to those problems, by the powers that be.

              Considerable time, effort and money has been invested into making a quadrupedal robot and testing it with the USMC, when they could have used a donkey. Clearly, there is a conception somewhere, right or wrong, that a beast of burden is less preferable than a robot.

              Trained, professional soldiers do not tend to have quite the same operational and tactical requirements or issues as large-ish equines. How much hay and horse nuts does a Marine eat? When on patrol, does he **** on the path, allowing tracking? does he bray when bullets fly, become startled, and run off carrying the tents and the evening meal? I don't know the answer to these questions, or whether the answers to them would indicate one way or another whether mules could be ruled out of use in a context of, say, recent US deployments in Afghanistan. I'd have my suspicions, but that's all it would be.

              Dogs are used but a dog is not an equine. It's, on average, a smaller target with a particular job, brought in to detect things, rather than (these days anyway) act as a beast of burden, an important link in the logistical chain.

              Mules might be the solution, but I could guess at the arguments as to why they may not be the silver bullet to any identified problems that require a multi-million dollar mechanical beast.
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              • #8
                Originally posted by Selous View Post
                I'd somewhat agree, but I think the US Army has a certain image it wants to portray, like all organisations it has a certain culture, and actual mules and donkeys wouldn't quite gel with the modern, technologically focused image.
                real animals would also bring other problems like dung, fodder, and they make their own noises when not wanted, western democracies are also quite sympathetic to animal deaths and wounding in combat and you'd get the 'poor innocent animals being used in man's wars' bit if there were much used and exposed to much danger.
                Having said that, it could well be they'll reconsider using real animals after this. It'd certainly be cheaper than an expensive robot.
                horses are still used the world over, so i don't see why a donkey cannot be used
                you think you a real "bleep" solders you "bleep" plastic solders don't wory i will make you in to real "bleep" solders!! "bleep" plastic solders

                CPO Mzinyati

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                • #9
                  What would you expect? They're being designed for the government by people paid by the government. There is no requirement they be practical or work, just meet whatever specification the government made for them in some expensive half assed way.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                    What would you expect? They're being designed for the government by people paid by the government. There is no requirement they be practical or work, just meet whatever specification the government made for them in some expensive half assed way.
                    By a committee, no doubt?
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Selous View Post
                      By a committee, no doubt?
                      Worse, by a bureaucracy. A committee makes compromises. A bureaucracy adds complexity endlessly as the design advances through it.

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                      • #12
                        I think they are still way too vulnerable for battlefield usage. Even small arms fire would take any current robot out easily.

                        They will become prominent in logistics first.
                        Wisdom is personal

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                        • #13
                          Once again, power technology proved to be the limiting factor. If the engine could be replaced with a suitable fule cell how would the troops perceive it?
                          Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

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                          • #14
                            It's material science as well. Read this article.

                            http://io9.gizmodo.com/scientists-ju...scl-1526957560
                            Credo quia absurdum.


                            Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                              If there is still a military need for quadrupeds for transportation why not start using real mules again? Proven design, doesn't use fossil fuels, can be produced without the need for machine tools and skilled labour.
                              Not sexy enough for money to spend on contractors to maintain/operate.

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