Military Robotics

DIY Cruise Missile

Posted 3 May 2003 at 14:21 UTC by steve Share This

The cruise missile was the one of the first widely deployed forms of fully autonomous military robot. In May of 2002, Bruce Simpson published an article claiming that it should be relatively easy for anyone with a little technical knowledge to build thier own cruise missle for about $5,000. His article was met with more than a little skepticism. Now he's going to prove it by building one. His vehicle will have a range of 160 Km, a top speed of about 600 Kph, and carry a 10 Kg payload. He plans to use only off-the-shelf parts, mostly obtained on eBay, spend less than $5,000, and will be keeping an online diary of his progress.

Self censorship, posted 4 May 2003 at 08:40 UTC by motters » (Master)

As the technology gets cheaper and more widely available I'm sure all manner of destructive weapons could be constructed.

However, I think people ought to take a sensible view and not seek to promote or provide details of the construction of such weapons. I think what prevents terrorists or rogue regimes from arming themselves in this way isn't lack of raw materials but the knowledge of how to use them. Most terrorists (except the evil masterminds, obviously) probably have a very low level of education.

I'm sure that if people in the robotics community don't adopt a certain amount of self-censorship then governments will start imposing silly laws about what people can and can't do in their garden sheds at weekends.

- Bob

censorship, posted 4 May 2003 at 15:54 UTC by steve » (Master)

If you read the FAQ associated with the project, this question is addressed. His argument is that terrorists could easily hire engineers smarter than the average hobbyist and probably could find engineers with detailed knowledge of real weapsons systems, so they don't need his plans to build one of these. His main goal is to convince the general public, who apparently don't take the threat seriously, that terrorists really could do this. He points out that he's published no information that wasn't already widely available both on-line and in textbooks. If he's correct, censoring the project would actually benefit the terrorists more than the free world.

Missiles, posted 4 May 2003 at 17:23 UTC by motters » (Master)

I don't think it would be easy for a terrorist to construct such a weapon, and attempting to hire engineers for the task would immediately raise suspicion. However, as he points out most of the parts are cheap and off the shelf and none of them taken individually are ostensibly sinister.

Even if information on weapons construction is available elsewhere I don't think that's an excuse to increase the availability of such information by putting it on websites. This can surely only assist people with evil intentions.

Assuming that such a weapon could be constructed I doubt that there could be any effective protection against it other than preventing it from being built in the first place. This means limiting the information about these devices to only a few sources the access to which can then be more carefully controlled by authorities.

- Bob

Average Hobbiest?, posted 5 May 2003 at 05:14 UTC by ROB.T. » (Master)

This guy doesn't seem to be an average hobbyist to me. However I'm sure if the government had a problem with him, they would let him know. Besides, there is always the possibility the government wants to wait quietly and see if he actually builds a missile. I'm sure the government would glean a lot of useful information about stuff like purchasing habits of people trying to build cruise missles.

Cruisin America, posted 5 May 2003 at 14:57 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I'm uneasy about sites like this too and I'm really not interested in seeing such sites. However, it doesn't take a genius to make something destructive for $5000. I don't really see a need for a DIY cruise missle except to educate (read scare) the public. Who knows what lurks in the basements of America? Dwelling on that thought, I'd guess a DIY Cruise missle is not the greatest of our worries. I don't think people need a recipe available for such things, though. I guess all in all, I'd be more concerned about a teenager trying to put one together and then blowing himself up, than worring whether terrorists are wasting their time with being more sophisticated.

It is frustrating that the government pays $1 million a missle or more when this guy can make one for $5000, albeit probably nowhere near the capabilities of the $1 million missle.

Now, if someone could post a DIY Cruise Ship, now that would be cool.

I don't like this at all. , posted 9 May 2003 at 06:55 UTC by Jhoffa_ » (Journeyer)

You KNOW what FEDGOV's response will be..

Look at the way the Second amendment has been attacked.

If that's any indication, then get ready for soldering iron licenses and "forbidden" information and components. Congressional hearings on what we "need" in the way of hobby related electronic components and what we can't be trusted with.. Paranoid nutcases duct taping themselves in their houses and the media pumping the fear factor for all it's worth.. ETC.

I REALLY wish he wouldn't do this..

Remember the complete and total over-reaction to even the mere thought that Iraq might have "unmanned drones" (and they showed a picture of a little, olive drab, RC airplane to accompany this) People went bonkers.. "Drones! AHHHH! Where's my duct tape. Help!"

Truth be known, there is probably much more to fear from some nutcase microbiologist with a garden sprayer and a $1500.00 panel van..

But, common sense won't stop the regulators from encroaching on your next project if it's deemed to be politically expedient.

Hmmm... , posted 9 May 2003 at 14:04 UTC by steve » (Master)

Sounds more like the real problem is an over-zealous government, not hobbiests. Fortunately, this guy isn't in the US, so he should have any troubles. He couldn't even order an Estes model rocket engine if he lived here, since those have now been deemed terrorist tools and their shipping outlawed...

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