Everyone knows that being a soldier is a dangerous job, but some of the tasks that soldiers are required to do are more dangerous than others. Walking through minefields, deactivating unexploded bombs or clearing out hostile buildings, for example, are some of the most dangerous tasks a person is asked to perform in the line of duty. What if we could send robots to do these jobs instead of humans? Then, if something went wrong, we'd only lose the money it cost to build the robot instead of losing a human life. And we could always build more robots. The U.S. military has been developing robotic systems for all sorts of jobs for years now, and some of them are even on the front lines in Iraq . In this article, we'll meet some of the military's latest robot soldiers, find out what sorts of jobs they can do and get a glimpse of what the future holds for military robots. Now, let's get started.
PRESENT USE : The term “robot” is often a misnomer in the present day to refer to these machines, since while a robot performs "autonomous or preprogrammed tasks" most "robots" in current use are in fact remote controlled by a human operator and have no automation or intelligence, due to the limitations of current artificial intelligence. Robots are used increasingly in wartime situations to reduce human casualties, being used for a mix of both combat against the enemy and non-combat roles such as scouting and bomb disposal . At present stages robot casualties are less financially damaging than human, SWORD taking $230,000 to produce while the average cost of a U.S. soldier from enlistment to internment is $4,000,0 Developments
Defense contractors in the USA are hard at work developing autonomous "robot soldiers", but most current models look more like tanks than humans. There are problems with threat recognition and response; some models will not shoot cows with guerillas crouched behind them, but will fire at anything stenciled with an AK-47 silhouette.
The military doesn't use the kinds of humanoid assault robots we've come to expect from films like "The Terminator." Whether or not a robot looks like a human doesn't matter much in today's military applications. Robots come in many shapes and sizes, and although there isn't really any single definition of a robot, one common definition is this: a machine that is controlled, in whole or in part, by an onboard computer. Robots also have sensors that allow them to get information from their surroundings, some form of locomotion and a power source.
If military robots aren't shaped like humans, what shapes do they come in? It depends on the kinds of jobs the robot is built to carry out. Robots that have to negotiate difficult terrain use tank treads. Flying robots look pretty much like small airplanes. Some robots are the size of trucks, and they look pretty much like trucks or bulldozers. Other, smaller robots have a very low profile to allow for great maneuverability.
Today's military robots don't do a whole lot on their own. Their computer brains aren't very sophisticated in terms of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is a form of computer program that allows the robot to process information and make some decisions on its own. Instead of independent AI, most military robots are remote-controlled by human operators. The military doesn't usually use the term "robot" -- it calls them unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). One other important thing to remember about military robots: Robots designed to help soldiers on the battlefield have to be carried onto the battlefield by those soldiers. For that reason, robot builders try to design "man-portable" designs. A man-portable robot can be carried by a single soldier, usually in a special backpack.
Small Bots: TALON:
The most common robots currently in use by the...
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