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America's Robot Army 139

Posted by Zonk
from the the-few-the-proud-the-computational dept.
Popular Mechanics explores the increasing level of reliance the US military has when it comes to robotic assistance. In the last few years, robot drones have reached an all-new level of sophistication, with several models already deployed in the field. Now, the next generation of robot helpers is nearing the end of its test phase. PM offers up a preview of what we could expect to see in the field within the next five years. "The MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) is roughly the size of a Humvee, but it has a trick worthy of monster truck rallies. Each of its six wheels is mounted on an articulated leg, allowing the robot to clamber up obstacles that other cars would simply bump against ... Barely a year old, the prototype is a product of the Army's Unmanned Ground Vehicle program, which began in 2001. It has yet to fire a single bullet or missile, or even be fitted with a weapon. Here at the test track it's loaded down with rucksacks and boxes, two squads' worth of equipment."
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America's Robot Army

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  • More tanks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:12AM (#22764588) Homepage

    "The MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) is roughly the size of a Humvee, but it has a trick worthy of monster truck rallies. Each of its six wheels is mounted on an articulated leg, allowing the robot to clamber up obstacles that other cars would simply bump against.

    Sounds like a tank. And haven't retired generals criticized the DoD in the last couple of decades for developing the tank technology we wished that we had in World War II instead of concentrating on anti-guerilla strategy?

    • Re:More tanks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:17AM (#22764608)
      anti-guerilla strategy? that's easy don't be an ass, and don't invade other countries on false intel, with the misguided hope that they will think you are saviors just because you deposed their idiot leader.

      I highly doubt if that will happen though.

      To truly fight guerilla you must fight them like you fight pirates. You take away the economic/political incentive for it to begin with.
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Why would you want to fight pirates? They are holy creatures. It is the ninjas that you want to kill. Of course, that is unless you don't like having polar icecaps.
      • GREAT THING of course if robots don't kill, only capture. If a machine kills alone, I fear my PC.
        • by Unoti (731964)
          Truly, because once we capture people we treat them with such justice and dignity.
      • by teneighty (671401) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @10:22AM (#22765118)

        To truly fight guerilla you must fight them like you fight pirates.

        ... with Ninjas?

        • by mikael (484)
          To truly fight guerilla you must fight them like you fight pirates.

          Just carpet-bomb them with RIAA cease-and-desist lawyer letters until they are bankrupt from lawyers fees, and then confiscate their CD collections if they fail to comply.
          • You forgot to add: Also as a parting present to them (just don't take it personally kinda thing) give them some free CDs produced by Sony and having some rootkits in them.
            Next time they try to pirate music, we can remotely detonate their PC (kaa boom !!!)

      • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

        by mi (197448)

        anti-guerilla strategy? that's easy don't be an ass, and don't invade other countries on false intel, with the misguided hope that they will think you are saviors just because you deposed their idiot leader.

        Without arguing on whether the above "donts" apply to our most recent Iraq invasion, is there — in your opinion — ever a situation, when wrongs committed by a country's government justify invasion aiming at correcting those wrongs?

        To truly fight guerrilla you must fight them like you fight

      • The USA has control of the largest and second largest oil reserves in the world now.

         
      • by turgid (580780)

        It helps to treat the civilians with respect once you have liberated them, for example, treating them as human beings, not pointing guns at them and learning some of their language so that you can communicate with them effectively, thus not requiring the gun in all situations.

    • Sounds really like a tank with no one to get injured in it.

      It's pretty much a "more of it"-approach. They want to solve all the problems with more technology. The rational behind it is the wish to reduce one's own side's casualties as far as possible. Although it is a legitimate and very sane goal, the strategy employed, air strikes and cruise missiles, causes a lot of civilian casualties.
      An thus, on the long run, this approach prepares the ground for a guerrilla force that has a footing in the country

      • Re:More tanks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Octorian (14086) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:13AM (#22764818) Homepage
        > Sounds really like a tank with no one to get injured in it.
        You really have no clue what a tank is? Or the difference between a tank and a truck? This is *not* a tank. It is a utility vehicle! The variant currently being shown is design to haul crap around so soldiers don't need to. Of course it does have armed variants that are designed to shoot weapons, keeping soldiers from harm. But, still, it is not heavy armor.

        And w.r.t. air strikes, do you realize what the alternative is to our current approach of guided weapons? Yes, carpet bombing. Creates a lot more civilian casualties. Instead of killing civilians who the bad guys are hiding next to, they'll also kill the civilians in the buildings down the street.
        • Oh, I can. I just kept the label my parent-poster gave it. AFV (or reconnaissance AFV) would probably the best manned correspondence, but I'm not going to argue about it.You are right, but please see that it was not my point.

          > And w.r.t. air strikes, do you realize what the alternative is to our current approach of guided weapons? Yes, carpet bombing.

          So, cruise missiles and carpet bombing are the only alternatives you can see? I think, that's what I meant with not getting the problem right. In some

          • by SRA8 (859587)
            Sure, lets not think outside the box. But here is a better alternative to both T2-like tanks and carpet bombing -- not creating militants in the first place. I'd wager 95% of the militants in Iraq for example were *created* when the US went in, destroyed the infrastructure, and all starved the population via food and medicine sanctions (http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2000/mar/04/weekend7.weekend9)
            • So would you become a militant in this scenario?

              I will offer that it really takes an external leadership to recruit and organize militants during times of artificial hardship, typically one with their own agenda...
            • Insurgents/militants in Iraqi or AQI, They'd be privately paid mercenaries available to the highest bidder
            • by WATist (902972)
              This would have more impact on me if militants were not attacking infrastructure in Iraq right now.
        • by rtb61 (674572)
          Sounds more like mobile pork, bleed the taxpayer dry with endless upgrades and suicide runs. There just ain't no corporate profits in training modern professional soldiers. Robots, perfect, less soldiers and more multi-million dollar bits of equipment with limited warranties.

          Of course when it comes to providing assistance in the event of natural disasters, the lack of trained personal will be missed, but it can always be contracted out, the loss of life of due to profits ahead of rapid response, well, tha

      • the strategy employed, air strikes and cruise missiles, causes a lot of civilian casualties.
        It does? are you sure I think you are confusing a BGM-109 Tomahawk [wikipedia.org] or a AGM-84H/K Harpoon [wikipedia.org] with a AGM-114 Hellfire [wikipedia.org]. The Hellfire is a semi-active homing anti-tank weapon not a cruise missile that is primarily air-launched from army helicopters or occasionaly fron a MQ-1 Predator [wikipedia.org].

        If you want to know how they are really used read Michael Yon's Guitar Heroes [michaelyon-online.com] posting.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Sounds like a tank. And haven't retired generals criticized the DoD in the last couple of decades for developing the tank technology we wished that we had in World War II instead of concentrating on anti-guerilla strategy?

      To be fair Iran has tanks... Whoops did I say Iran... I meant "possible future liberation targets" have tanks.

      But in all seriousness, if the thing has anti-tank missiles on it, its not meant for anti-guerrilla warfare. There are a handful of countries that its intended for. Mostly the ones
      • actually the hellfire AT missile is quite handy at providing remotely painted surgical strikes on vehicles and small groups doing nasty things like plant IED along the road at night.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      And haven't retired generals criticized the DoD in the last couple of decades for developing the tank technology we wished that we had in World War II instead of concentrating on anti-guerilla strategy?
      And in the next conflict, they could just as easily be criticized for assuming all future conflicts would be insurgencies.
    • Sounds more like a farm implement [wikipedia.org] to me.
    • by khallow (566160)

      "The MULE (Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment) is roughly the size of a Humvee, but it has a trick worthy of monster truck rallies. Each of its six wheels is mounted on an articulated leg, allowing the robot to clamber up obstacles that other cars would simply bump against.

      Sounds like a tank. And haven't retired generals criticized the DoD in the last couple of decades for developing the tank technology we wished that we had in World War II instead of concentrating on anti-guerilla strategy?

      Several things to note here. First, the MULE is much more mobile than a tank in an urban environment (the bit about the "articulated legs"). It's much smaller than a tank. For example, it probably weighs about a tenth (when fully loaded) of a main battle tank (which weighs around 40-50 tons), maybe less. It uses wheels rather than treads. And it's not manned. And one of the uses is to carry cargo for a couple of infantry squads. Doesn't sound like a tank to me.

    • Doesn't sound like a tank as long as it has wheels.
    • by sco08y (615665)
      Sounds like a tank.

      A Main Battle Tank is characterized by overwhelming offensive power and survivability, which generally translates into big gun, big optics, heavy armor and powerful engine. I am in an armor MOS, incidentally, though I'm not a tanker.

      The MULE looks like it complements counter-insurgency measures. A necessity of counter-insurgency is patrolling, and having a robot help haul gear in places where vehicles can't go allows for more extensive patrols.
  • Personally, (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iknownuttin (1099999)
    I think we should spend the resources on space exploration and educating the young folks for those technical jobs instead of sending those kids over to die or get maimed for reasons that I don't find very compelling - (except for Afghanistan).

    And in the meantime, to fight our wars, I think we should send the folks who would benefit from the wars and the arm chair generals who are really quick to send other people's kids over to fight while justifying their haste with the attitude of "well they volunteered

    • by MBC1977 (978793)
      You know normally I don't comment on military matters (even though I am a Marine), but for you I'll make an exception...

      Here is a reason I (and most people) always find interesting... people who want to kill you because they don't like you. People who want to kill you because your way of life is simply intolerable to them (even though you are over half a planet away). I'm not saying the war is noble or anything like that, because its not. However, I would rather take the fight to the enemy, rather tha
      • Your simple compelling reasons have to be balanced with some sense of likelihood. There's somebody mumbling on a street corner in the Bronx who wants to kill you because he knows that you secretly paint your belly button green. He's not a real threat. You need not deploy troops.

        Another bit of balance to consider is effectiveness. Let's say you start with 100 people who want to kill you because your are heathen Christian who watches Hollywood films with American whores who show their facial skin even whe
      • by mbius (890083)
        It seems to me that your reason -- a euphemism for the old "they hate our freedom" saw -- is either a new phenomenon in social behavior, or a red herring. Wars have always been fought for land and resources...until now? C'mon. The radically conservative [wikipedia.org] church-state that outlaws any other interpretation of its religion is our strongest economic and political Arab ally. Intolerance (nor human rights) must not be key.

        As to "bringing the fight to them," the entire premise of terrorism is it doesn't work
        • by MBC1977 (978793)
          Like I said, I don't believe there is (or was) a noble reason for the war (my personal opinion), however, we are in a fight now and for better or worse, there will only be one victor. Again I ask the question: would you rather fight terrorists in Times Square or in their home country? Yes, Iraq is unfortinate situation, yes I've seen the tragedy upclose and personal, and yes I've seen both positive and negative effects of the "war". There really are individuals who hate the U.S. (both the people and the
  • Robots? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Porchroof (726270) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:20AM (#22764626) Homepage
    I hope none of these so-called robots are simply radio-controlled devices. Anything under human control does not rate being called a robot. (When have you ever heard of a radio-controlled model airplane being called a robot?)
    • Re:Robots? (Score:4, Informative)

      by VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:35AM (#22764676)
      You might try telling that to NASA [nasa.gov].
    • I don't know many details about these robots, even though I walk by one of the units described in the article every couple of days. Some of these machines are robots, and are able to operate autonomously with some simple instructions -- get from here to there and avoid obstacles, maybe a couple of other simple functions. Sometimes you can watch what the thing is doing, or update its instructions while it is already running a program. In some instances it makes sense to have an operator drive it like a video
    • by pcgabe (712924)
      I dunno, I've heard of people having more trouble with fully automated systems in the past...

      Lowtax - But... I don't understand how that is possible. I didn't program him to do that, I programmed him to help the homeless and push the homeless into their boxes / houses and shove the space station away from the Terrible Space Secret.

      Lowtax - That's odd, the robot left! I can't find where he went.

      Corn_Boy - be very careful, he is scary, does he have an off button?

      Lowtax - No, I hard encoded the transistor giga

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)

      I hope none of these so-called robots are simply radio-controlled devices.
      Autonomous-vs-not-autonomous is a nonsense argument since neither extreme is practical. There will always be a level of human control (at minimum, to specify the commander's intent) and a level of autonomous control (at minimum, coordinated moving of wheels or legs to move as directed). In between is where all practical applications lie.
    • ``Anything under human control does not rate being called a robot.'' is not insightful (current rating) it's ridiculous.

      Obviously, there are degrees to which we wish to automate our control over our tools, but, we definitely, absolutely, want our robots to be under human control. For example, the robotic arms and turntables in the CMU Robotics Institute when I worked there c. 1983 were, um, meant to be controlled. Also, that control, was meant to originate from humans.

      People refer to bionics -- especiall
    • That's the only way we can keep them from seeking Sarah Connor.
  • Irony of ironies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by VennData (1217856) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:26AM (#22764636)
    The thing designed to save US lives looks like a casket.
  • It seems to me that it would be easy enough to do this for consumer-grade devices shortly after the move to all-electric cars. Just have a separate motor per wheel so you don't need a complicated power train.

    Toss in a fraction of the automated control that they're talking about, and you have the ultimate off-road vehicle and the ride can be as smooth as you want.
    • by FudRucker (866063)
      with separate electric motors for each wheel then you must have a way to synchronize all the motors to run at the same speed, plus coordination for forward, reverse, neutral, and for steering there needs to be some limited slip to compensate for the inside rear wheel turning slower than the outside real wheel so you do not get that "wheel hopping" effect like you do with full posi-trac rear differentials.
      - i would be willing to bet the electronic that would go in to a system would be plenty complicated, n
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Animats (122034)

        with separate electric motors for each wheel then you must have a way to synchronize all the motors to run at the same speed... i would be willing to bet the electronic that would go in to a system would be plenty complicated, not impossible - but not a brainless task either...

        Code for that is in most of the better vehicle traction and stability control systems right now. Ordinary cars now have two axes of rate gyro, steering wheel sensors, wheel encoders, and computer-controlled individual wheel brak

  • by Wowsers (1151731)
    Thinking in "James Bond" film mode for a moment, what happens IF some enemy lets off an EM pulse, what happens to your (over) reliance on technology?
    • by NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:48AM (#22764722)
      Bah, I'm sure that all our cool toys are totally invulnerable to EM weapons. They're probably completely unhackable and could never be hijacked in any way to be used against US troops or innocent bystanders.
      • by Belial6 (794905)
        "They're probably completely unhackable and could never be hijacked in any way to be used against US troops or innocent bystanders."

        This is has been the case since the first primate picked up a rock to bash in his neighbors head. It will likely be the case until the last primate is dead and gone. I would guess that it is harder to hijack a radio controlled device than it is to hijack a knife or gun.
    • Thinking in "James Bond" film mode for a moment, what happens IF some enemy lets off an EM pulse, what happens to your (over) reliance on technology?
      We unleash the ultimate organic force on this planet. A search and destroy team comprised of Chuck Norris, Steven Segal and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
    • by vertinox (846076)
      Thinking in "James Bond" film mode for a moment, what happens IF some enemy lets off an EM pulse, what happens to your (over) reliance on technology?

      I remember reading something online about the specs being requested by the military on one of these UAV aircraft before. One of the criteria being investigated is how well its stands up to an EMP attack or something natural like a lightning strike. The more worrying one was the spec requesting how well it stood up to a nuclear attack.

      In that regard, the militar
      • by WATist (902972)
        One thing about fully or partially automated UAVs is that AI pilot/driver error will tend to take all of machines off the battle field, other-wise one human pilot/driver is grounded/suspended.
    • by gatkinso (15975)
      Regarding your scenario.... *which* side was it again with an over reliance on technology?

      However in response to your post, many (not all) military vehicles are hardened to some degree to EMP.

      Also, at Paxtuxent River MD the capacitors that are used to generate an EMP (used to test Navy aircraft in this regard) are the size of a semi trailer. This is just the capacitors (i have laid eyes on them) - and the generated EMP is tiny.

      A feasable EMP generator is known as an atomic bomb - but use one of those again
      • by Torvaun (1040898)
        They could be more tightly focused, giving extra range for the same power. It's not unreasonable to think that EMPs could be used to shoot down planes one degree of airspace at a time.
    • by sponga (739683)
      Ummm an EM pulse is your strongest argument?
      Wah, wah, wah....

      Well than we just send in a flight of 10 unmanned UAV's loaded with hellfires and airdrop a squad of 20 battle bots to seek out the EMP device; which was easily detected by the Air Forces satellites in the area or radar. EMP can't go off all day long and we have reinforcements. All of this is ready to launch from the base or on the carrier hundreds of miles away, hell they already might have a manned/un-manned B-52 loaded with all those things in
    • What good are soldiers who can be stopped by a simple bullet?

      What good are bridges that can be taken down with a few pounds of explosive?

      What good are airplanes that can taken down with a rocket?

      What good is trying if someone can just spoil things?

      Electronic devices have unique weaknesses just like other kinds of hardware (and wetware). I think a good rebuttal to your question would be that the benefits of electronic equipment far, far outweigh the remote chances of some kind of catastrophic EMP (not going
  • by Digestromath (1190577) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:46AM (#22764716)
    Millions of dollars in developing advanced robotic military hardware. Individual unit prices no doubt in the 6 or 7 figure range. High training costs for operating personnel, maintenance, some sort of expensive high tech ammunition and long tech support calls.

    All of it to be ultimately undone by a hundred dollars worth of high explosive, some household shrapnel and a triggering device operated by a guy living a cave who MAY have spent a total of three weeks at the local militant training camp.

    We are living in the age of guerilla warfare. It's no longer about the size of your Deathstar. Its about how many plucky farm kids you can convince to join the cause.

    I guess there new moto could be "Army of 00000001"

    • by argiedot (1035754)
      There was a sci-fi story I read a long time ago (Asimov, perhaps) that had someone explaining how they lost their war. "We were more advanced.", he said. Funny stuff.
    • The problem with your 'low tech' solution (getting more people into the army) is that its quite possibly MORE exspensive than robots. It costs a quarter of a million dollars to train up a skilled infantry man, and even more to train up other specialists. Equipment costs are exactly cheap either, as that whole body armor fiasco showed. The political cost of having MORE soldiers (which in all likelyhood means more deaths), is hell to pay as well. There is no doubt that going so robot heavy that you can't figh
    • by LinuxDon (925232)
      It may be destroyed by some (relatively) cheap explosive, but lives are saved because nobody was in it.
      So I guess it's worth the money.
    • by Xest (935314) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @12:01PM (#22765624)
      I agree with your sentiment but I think the benefits of high tech. weaponry are often overshadowed by the typical scenario you mention whereby something like a multi-million dollar vehicle is taken out by a cheaply made IED.

      When we hear news reports of raids on insurgent strongholds by our forces you often hear about how 10s, 100s were killed compared to maybe 2 or 3 allied soldiers. It's the very fact we have high tech. weaponry that allows this, be it simple things such as night vision to full on portable video link ups with drones above the battlefield - the fact is high tech. weaponry is saving the lives of our soldiers.

      Similarly, I understand that an expensive roboting land vehicle like this could be blown apart but if it can traverse more difficult terrain than your average hummer can then surely that allows us to transport things off standard roadways and across tougher terrain hence avoiding the sides of the road where IEDs are often hidden? Surely the best defense against a trap is to be able to not walk into it in the first place?

      There's a lot to be said for the point you make - that we mustn't start using technology in warzones for the sake of it. Used well however it can and already is making our forces a lot better off than they ever have been previously. Whilst 4,000 odd US soldiers may have died in Iraq to insurgents, that figure is dwarfed by the number of insurgents that have died to high tech. weaponry in US hands.

      One final point is that Iraq and Afghanistan are fairly different in terms of weaponry and tactics used, the typical IED made by a taliban tribesman living in the mountains isn't going to do an awful lot to an MBT, but as soon as you go to Iraq where you have insurgents potentially armed by the Iranians using charges shaped specifically to penetrate tank armour it's a different story. The insurgents the US is dealing with in Iraq aren't the same insurgents you describe in your post (i.e. next to no training and only using cheap weaponry) that are more commonly found in Afghanistan. Many insurgents in Iraq have been given vast amounts of training and are aquiring some pretty expensive weaponry themselves. The problem is now that some of the tactics in Iraq are spilling over into Afghanistan.

      Technology does matter in the warzone when it comes to saving soldiers lives, sure a multi-million dollar MULE may get blown to pieces, but I'd rather see that than a patrol of actual humans suffer the same fate.
      • by sco08y (615665)
        Surely the best defense against a trap is to be able to not walk into it in the first place?

        You've pretty much nailed the weakness of IEDs: they can very effectively cover a linear route, but are far less effective against an area.
      • by Kagura (843695)
        ... but as soon as you go to Iraq where you have insurgents potentially armed by the Iranians using charges shaped specifically to penetrate tank armour it's a different story.

        While some of the parts for an explosively formed penetrator [wikipedia.org] can be machined in Iraq, critical devices and explosives used in some of their Iraqi incarnations originate unmistakably from Iran. It's rather unfortunate that this administration has pissed away its own credibility, to the point where actual evidence (as in not made up
  • More weapons.

    Good one, America. Nice to see those sessions with the shrink are working.
  • What are the chances (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XNormal (8617) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:16AM (#22764840) Homepage
    What are the chances that someone working on this project played M.U.L.E. [wikipedia.org] in the 80s?

    Enjoy the music of the game here [youtube.com]. Ah, nostalgia...
    • by Trevin (570491)
      Hmm... "Multiple Use Labor Element" ... "Multifunction Utility/Logistics and Equipment"

      I'm thinking they didn't come up with that acronym by coincidence. :-)

      If course, when I saw the pictures my impression immediately changed from M.U.L.E. to "Rise of the Machines".
    • by StefanJ (88986)
      The moment I saw "MULE" in TFA, I knew someone would bring up the game, and hoped someone would post a link to the music.

      Here is the Atari 800 version [youtube.com]
    • by EQ (28372)
      I'd say ask the inventors about how much Smithore it can get carry, or if it will mine Crystite...

      That'll get you the answer you want. Heh.
  • But what happens when one of these things goes off the reservation and kills innocents? Or a UAV collides with an airliner. Or suppose some clever hacker figures out how to take control of our drones and uses them to bomb us. Is that an act of war even though it was our weapon system?

    There's a real danger in relying too much on gadget war fighting devices, even one as simple as a pack mule. It starts out as a luxury and pretty soon no squad can't operate without one. You give them capacity, they'll f

    • >>But what happens when one of these things goes off the reservation and kills innocents? Or a UAV collides with an airliner.

      It's a good thing that NEVER happens with trusty humans at the wheel...

      A duck can take down an airplane. Let's not get too wound up about rogue UAVs being the coming apocalypse quite yet.

      -b
  • I for one welcome our MULE overlords who are building SKYNET, and will PWND the terrorists. But where are the freakin' laser beams? OK, that should save everyone some time.
  • Our Future (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kittoa (218844)
    Once again, the Simpsons has an applicable quote:

    Commandant: The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots. Thank you.
  • Are Unmanned Fighters Ready for Combat?

    Yes sir. Since the 40's [wikipedia.org]
    In America's army, the old is new again ! The tech to make drones has been available since more than half a century, it just took that long for US officials to realize that it could be a good idea.
    Wake me up when they plan deploying autonomous vehicles. Yes, we have the tech [wikipedia.org] for these also.

  • ...We've had this technology since the early-80's!

    http://atarimule.neotechgaming.com/ [neotechgaming.com]

    For more details:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.U.L.E [wikipedia.org].
    • Word.

      I was a huge fan of the C64 version, and honestly, I think that better computer games are very rare - MULE was just brilliant, and far, far ahead of its time.
    • by FuzzyFox (772046)
      "MULE goes crazy!"

      Damn, I lost a whole round of Crystite production!

      What?? "Fire in the Store"?! NOOO!!!

  • Under the cited Popular Mechanics article, commentors talk about robots and war crimes. My view: Robotic and cybernetic systems will naturally be designed to keep and report extensive video and other records of their activities. Records can help prevent the commission of crime, and can aid investigation [blogspot.com] of allegations of crime.
  • Doesn't anyone else know that this issue started hitting stands more than a month ago?
  • MAARS
    Weight: 235 lb.
    Speed: 7 mph
    Weapons: M240B medium machine gun
    Notable feature: Programmable no-fire zones to prevent fratricide.

    Butch: Hurry up! We're taking heavy fire.
    Andy: Hold on we're still writing our test cases.
    Paul: No, Andy, that code protects soldiers on both the left and right sides. My test case only requires you to protect the left side. You're clearly gold plating.
  • I've seen a lot of comments arguing that anything that saves the lives of our soldiers is worth it. That's a hard thing to argue against; certainly I don't wish death on any of my countrymen. And from a strategic standpoint, you'd want to have all of your options available.

    But from the standpoint of what's good for the world, I don't think this is. We see the same thing over and over again as we reduce the lethality of certain acts. Now that tasers are widespread, police are using them on people that ju
  • They should build these Terminator robots that look exactly like Arnold Schwartzenegger in his Mr. Universe days, that don't stop, ever, until their target is dead. Build ten million of these and deploy them all over the Middle East. That should solve the never ending Middle East conflict in about three days.
  • I think it was quite clever of them to use an X-box controller to steer the thing remotely. It's something most of the 18 to 20-something year old grunts will be familiar with.

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