I suppose I should answer that with another question. Why does the air force use un-manned air craft for espionage? The air force currently has planes that are remote-controlled so the idea that the military will eventually have un-manned machines for combat is not too far off.
did you read about the remote controlled robot 'soldiers' being prepped to roll into battle in Iraq? bomb-disposal robots redesigned with onboard machine guns and possibly rocket launchers, and who knows what else, sent into combat!! precursors to the tracked HK tanks right out of Terminator!!
it won't be long...
__________________ 'The future is not set...'
'I'll be back...'
'Hasta la vista, baby!'
'Come with me if you want to live!'
Sharpshooting robots evoke 'Terminator.' The more pertinent question is how these automated soldiers will transform military conflict.
They've spied on the enemy, sniffed for deadly chemical and radioactive emissions, and sacrificed themselves to detonate terrorist bombs. Now robots are ready to strap on guns and fight the battles too.
This spring, the United States armed forces are expected to deploy 18 Talon robots to Iraq. The semi-autonomous machines will be capable of firing rifles, machine guns, grenade launchers, and rockets with better accuracy than human soldiers. They're the latest step in a surge of battlefield "bots" that are increasingly shouldering the military's most dangerous jobs.
"Terminator" they're not. Only a human soldier using radio controls from a distance has the ability to "squeeze the trigger." But if battle bots ever do take on the bulk of frontline fighting, the results could transform military strategy.
"It's going to change the fundamental equation of war," says John Pike, a security policy analyst who runs the respected website globalsecurity.org. The evolution of war is at its midpoint, Mr. Pike says. "First you had human beings without machines. Then you had human beings with machines. And finally you have machines without human beings."
While robots firing weapons on their own may be a decade or more away, even today's remote-controlled versions have changed the rules, he adds. By turning war into "a video game," the machines make it much easier for soldiers to kill without remorse by putting the human operator at "one remove" from the act of killing.
In the air, an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft developed by the US, the Predator, first flew over the Bosnia conflict in 1995. More recently, Predators have fired Hellfire missiles against ground targets in Iraq.
Among them: PackBots, a small tracked vehicle made by IRobot Corp. in Burlington, Mass.
Equipped with an arm to grip or carry objects, the machine may probe the carcass of a cow or goat, a favorite place for insurgents to plant explosives. Two small flippers on the front enable it to go up stairs. It's waterproof, capable of driving across shallow rivers, and rugged. One PackBot exploring a cave in Afghanistan fell 25 feet, righted itself, and reestablished communication with its handlers outside the cave, Mr. Angle says. Their computer-guided guns are said to hit their targets with lethal accuracy nearly 100 percent of the time.
No single technological breakthrough is driving the rise in battlefield bots. It's simply that their high-tech components continue to become smaller, faster, and cheaper. The robots are built with so many "off the shelf" parts available to consumers that they're sometimes called "PC bots." Proven civilian technologies like global positioning systems (GPS) are reducing the need to develop expensive proprietary systems.
The US is looking at robots to accomplish three goals: reduce casualties, save money, and perform more effectively than a human could, he adds. A robot that costs more than $200,000 each, such as a Talon, might seem expensive.
Besides the Talons, which have been converted from bomb-disposal bots, other American robots are being developed for the battlefield. R-Gator, built by IRobot, will use off-the-shelf robotics to perform dangerous missions autonomously. The robot, based on the John Deere M-Gator military vehicle now in Iraq, will serve as an unmanned scout or "point man," guard a perimeter, do reconnaissance, or haul supplies up to 1,400 pounds guided by GPS. Operated manually or by remote control, R-Gator can be directed to follow soldiers or a set route. The first R-Gators are scheduled to roll off the assembly line by mid-2005. Full production is planned to begin in 2006.