The US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines have deployed approximately 6,000 robots (Mokhoff). As one can see, robotic technology in the military is playing an ever-increasing role. More importantly, they are taking humans out of danger by going into dangerous situations that would be considered suicide missions to humans. Robots are particularly used for roles dealing with what people in the field call the “Three D’s”-tasks that are dull, dirty, or dangerous. Many military missions can be incredibly boring as well as physically taxing. “Humans turn out to be really bad at doing routine things; but a robot would be happy to sit there all night, standing watch without ever becoming distracted, sleepy, or bored” commented Charles E. Thorpe, director of Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute (Freedberg). Unmanned systems can also operate in “dirty” environments, such as battle zones beset by bad weather or filled with biological or chemical weapons (Singer). Robots also save civilian lives through improved precision of targeting and firing. A robot sniper is not subject to arm shake, fatigue, or any of the other human factors that throw off a rifleman’s aim, making each shot more accurate and less likely to hit someone other than the enemy. Pilotless drones are more likely to hit the target with better accuracy than bombs being dropped from a plane at 30,000 feet (Gyrnir). In the Army 53 percent of their casualties come with first contact with the enemy. Having a robot scouting ahead or flying above sending back pictures of the ground below to troops would reduce the casualties (Fogarty). Military robots can serve in place of human beings in explosive ordinance disposal (EOD), surveillance, and other dangerous situations.
For example, when an EOD team was hunting for improvised explosive devices (IED), by the time the soldier was close enough to see the telltale wires from the bomb, it was too late. The IED erupted in a wave of flames. A soldier would have to be
Cited: Fogarty, Kevin. “Military Will Make Robotics Industry a Giant, if Robot Makers Can Keep Up.” Security and Defense Robotics 4/15/09. 1/28/10. .
Freedberg Jr, Sydney J. “The Robots Go Rolling Along.” National Journal 2/21/04. 2/2/10. .
Gyrnir, Sten. “Technology Military Robotics.” New York Stringer 10/31/09. 2/12/10. .
Mokhoff, Nicolas. “Drafted for Duty.” EETimes 9/28/09. 2/2/10. .
Singer, P.W. “Robot at War: The New Battlefield.” Wilson Center 2/11/10. .