The modernization of the military is advancing at a rapid pace, and one of the most noticeable aspects of this is the use of robots on the battlefield.
For the past two decades, the United States military has been the largest consumer of robotic devices in the world. This move towards mechanization means that there are fewer soldiers on the battlefield, resulting in fewer casualties. It also means that today’s soldier needs to be familiar and comfortable with high tech equipment.
Not all military robots are built to be aggressors, but whether they are weapon equipped or not, most of these robots carry aggressive names such as:
- The Talon
- The Dragon Runner
- The Predator
- The Raven
Military robots need to be rugged, able to withstand bomb blasts, easily repairable and easy to use. All of these criteria are taken into account by the design teams that develop these robots.
Many of the companies that have designed and built these robots do so with military funding earmarked for these specific projects.
Boston Dynamics has introduced two of the more impressive robots called Big Dog and Petman. Big Dog is essentially a pack mule that can follow a soldier across rugged terrain while carrying extra supplies. Petman looks quite a bit like the Terminator and is said to be for testing protective clothing under realistic conditions.
The robots used by the military have many roles to play, from reconnaissance (including troop movement, communications and weather) to bomb sniffing/defusing and resupply/gear support. There are also weapon equipped robots on the battlefield. The most often mentioned of these is the Predator drone. However there are others, which resemble small tanks that are equipped with machine guns and grenades, sirens and laser flash weapons.
One of the sad facts of war is the inevitable injury. Robotic surgeons have been developed to handle battlefield surgery without the need of an on site surgeon. Although most military robots are little more than remote controlled vehicles, new artificial intelligence advances may eventually allow these robots to be set loose to make their own decisions as to who they fire on, or who they operate on.
While many may not agree with military action or war, the fact is that many of these robots have a valuable place in civilian society. From firefighting to search and rescue operations, assistance for the disabled and medical applications, the research into military robots does eventually benefit the community at large once the technology is developed.