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First Armed Robots on Patrol in Iraq

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  • First Armed Robots on Patrol in Iraq

    Very cool...

    Robots have been roaming the streets of Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time -- the first time in any warzone -- the machines are carrying guns.

    After years of development, three "special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system" (SWORDS) robots have deployed to Iraq, armed with M249 machine guns. The 'bots "haven't fired their weapons yet," Michael Zecca, the SWORDS program manager, tells DANGER ROOM. "But that'll be happening soon."

    The SWORDS -- modified versions of bomb-disposal robots used throughout Iraq -- were first declared ready for duty back in 2004. But concerns about safety kept the robots from being sent over the the battlefield. The machines had a tendency to spin out of control from time to time. That was an annoyance during ordnance-handling missions; no one wanted to contemplate the consequences during a firefight.

    So the radio-controlled robots were retooled, for greater safety. In the past, weak signals would keep the robots from getting orders for as much as eight seconds -- a significant lag during combat. Now, the SWORDS won't act on a command, unless it's received right away. A three-part arming process -- with both physical and electronic safeties -- is required before firing. Most importantly, the machines now come with kill switches, in case there's any odd behavior. "So now we can kill the unit if it goes crazy," Zecca says.

    As initially reported in National Defense magazine, only three of the robots are currently in Iraq. Zecca says he's ready to send more, "but we don't have the money. It's not a priority for the Army, yet." He believes that'll change, once the robots begin getting into firefights.

    http://blog.wired.com/defense/2007/0...wnational.html
    Rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated... again...

  • #2
    Never forget, your equipment is supplied by the lowest bidder.
    It was scary going into a fight with the CIDG as their fire control was fuzzy at best.
    Having one of these things as a prospective team mate is nuts.

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    • #3
      It was bound to happen . . .

      Robots don't have mothers. Robots don't vote. Robots don't go AWOL.

      Of course these aren't true robots yet but as the DARPA Grand Challenge prizes have shown, autonomous vehicles that can operate in the real world are now becoming feasible.

      Last month the UN estimated that 1/2 of the world's population now lives in urban environments. That's the worst, most manpower intensive environment for military ops. It's also paved with lots of streets for good robot mobility and nice angular buildings to assist robots in navigation.

      So let's say in the near future [really near futur] you run a nice industrial country with a strong manufacturing base but an aging population that won't let their kids go to war, you will soon have an alternative source of troops. Don't think so?

      How much are enlistment bonuses running the US right now?
      How much does it cost to train a combat infantryman?
      How much does it cost per year to keep that soldier in peacetime?
      How much does it cost to send him to war?
      How much if he dies?

      Now how much to build a robot and store it until needed?
      How much to strip the useable parts off it if it gets knocked out?
      How many jobs will your Congressman bring home for the warbot plant he put in the new appropriations bill?

      I'd say it's just a matter of, "when?"
      Last edited by GCoyote; 03 Aug 07, 19:45. Reason: left out a
      Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

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      • #4
        I think this is more something you use to unpin your unit. say your pinned down you deploy this bot that moves out, flanks the enemy, and free's up you unit.

        I can also see these being useful for house clearing. It's a different approach to the same probelm, which the British army has the hand grenade camera.
        Winnie says
        ---------------------------------
        "He fell out of a Gestapo car, over a bridge, and onto a railway line. Then was run over by the Berlin Express.

        It was an Accident."
        Herr Flick.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Listy View Post
          I think this is more something you use to unpin your unit. say your pinned down you deploy this bot that moves out, flanks the enemy, and free's up you unit.

          I can also see these being useful for house clearing. It's a different approach to the same probelm, which the British army has the hand grenade camera.
          Do you have any more info on this hand grenade camera?

          Oooooo 2700 posts
          "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful." -explaining why Reagan liked to have a jar of jelly beans on hand for important meetings

          CO for 1st S.INC Shock Security Troop

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          • #6
            it was In an article in Soldier mag a few months back. However the Kitstop web page is updated each month and As far as I can tell they don't have an archive.

            Basically it's ball shapped, about the size of a cricket ball. You throw it like a normal grenade only inside is a full 360 rotating camera that has a short range Vision (and possibly sound) Feed back to a small screen. ou can move the camera around inside the ball by remote joystick and check out the room you lobbed it into.
            Winnie says
            ---------------------------------
            "He fell out of a Gestapo car, over a bridge, and onto a railway line. Then was run over by the Berlin Express.

            It was an Accident."
            Herr Flick.

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            • #7
              The current generation of robots has skins made of rubber (see photo). The rebels detect them without any difficulty. However, there are rumors Pentagon is working on actual human tissue that is being grown in labs. Future generations or robots could have real human flesh on the outside making them virtually undetectable by humans.


              "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
              --Frederick II, King of Prussia

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Listy View Post
                it was In an article in Soldier mag a few months back. However the Kitstop web page is updated each month and As far as I can tell they don't have an archive.

                Basically it's ball shapped, about the size of a cricket ball. You throw it like a normal grenade only inside is a full 360 rotating camera that has a short range Vision (and possibly sound) Feed back to a small screen. ou can move the camera around inside the ball by remote joystick and check out the room you lobbed it into.
                Very interesting, thanks Listy
                "You can tell a lot about a fella's character by whether he picks out all of one color or just grabs a handful." -explaining why Reagan liked to have a jar of jelly beans on hand for important meetings

                CO for 1st S.INC Shock Security Troop

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                • #9
                  I think robots in combat are a GREAT idea!

                  Get shot at or send in a 'bot to get shot at?

                  I think the 'bot has the advantage. It can be heavily armored, it can do recon, it can find/kill the enemy. If it gets taken out, no one has to perform a rescue and risk further lives. Maintaining a robot is easier then maintaining a human and the parts are more interchangable!
                  Battles are dangerous affairs... Wang Hsi

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                  • #10
                    i think it is great. get a company of robots over there and kick some a with them. if it saves US lives then use it
                    "All Glory is Fleeting"

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