You're starting to see them, right? The robot security guard with the
yellow flashing light on top?
CBC in Canada has an article about
the U.S. military seeking robotic technology made-in-Canada.
Unmanned Vehicle Systems (UVS),
are the guard/sentrys of the future and the american military seems to
be a big user of this technology.
Cerkits Corporation Inc. in
Canada has created robots such as
MAGS (Mobile Autonomous
and The Prowler to fulfill these guard and sentry needs. At $85k
each, these robots may not perform as
well as a human would, but they're easier to cover the landscape with
for guarding things like oil
pipelines, fence lines, and parking lots and allows for fewer human
casualties. So, you always thought
that if you ever needed a job, you could always take a low paying
security guard job? That may
not always be the case in the future. Expect to see more robot
security guards watching your every move and while giving you the
freedom to search out higher paying jobs.
These robots look rather crude - a sort of trolley with a periscope -
but in time they will improve. It doesn't look like any of them yet
carry weapons of any kind. If they do I bet they are teleoperated, so
that although the robot may aim and fire at a target its still a human
that manually selects it and provides some confirmation.
The logical next step with this sort of technology is to produce an
automated tank. Get rid of all the human driver and gunner occupants
and make a much smaller (i.e. physically more robust, quicker and
harder to hit) tank which is partly autonomous and partly
teleoperated. An operator would decide where the tank should go and
what it should shoot at, but the lower level details of how it should
get there and aiming its weapons would be automatic.
Going even further than that strategic decisions about coordination
between multiple vehicles on the ground and in the air could also be
automated - types of formation, coordinated attacks and so on.
Strategic decisions can be much better and more quickly made by
computers than humans - as is usually the case when I play warcraft 3
or chess against the computer. Some decades down the line the entire
process of warfare could be automated, with human decisions only being
taken at the political level. Perhaps war itself will become a
meaningless charade once its just machines fighting other machines.
Having said all that I'm mainly in favour of robots being used for
beneficial and constructive purposes rather than destructive ones.
Wars are almost always a pointless waste of time, resources and lives,
but I guess that military applications are pretty much inevitable.
This six wheel drive mode is a good step in the right direction.
A security guard robot has to be large and heavy enough to discourage
theft. Plus it has to be tough as it can easily be vandalized. For
example a thief would sneak up and pour a half gallon of paint on the
camera video system in order to blind it.
Then there are the random shooter vandals, who decide to use it for
Then there are those who want to steal those neat wheels it has. Thus
special wheel lug bolts are in order.