Einstein once said: ‘I don’t know with what world war III will be fought, but world war IV will be fought with sticks and stones’. And Einstein couldn’t be any more correct.
Today, a small country with limited population can defeat a ten times larger country. Because war now doesn’t technically depend on which country has larger army like it once used to be, and with time, size would be the last factor that would determine the winner of a war.
Atomic bomb has largely brought power equilibrium in the world, and before a full-fledged war with these can take place, countries are in a race for creating intelligent machines that would fight the wars for them without the limitations of a human soldier and better than others. And the results that are emerging because of the obsession are both fascinating and scary.
We are creating artificial intelligent war machines that in the long run can turn against human race and a war between man and machine wouldn’t be fiction any longer.
Though there have been large number of autonomous robots developed in the recent times like Saudi Arabia’s first robot citizen Sophia, here are but 7 robots that are being specifically invented for military purposes and which can function without human guidance.
Spot is an unmanned military robot that looks like a dog developed by US firm Boston Dynamics. If it passes all tests, Spot is supposed to be inducted in the US military by the year 2030. The primary purpose of developing Spot is to carry luggage and food while moving quietly with the troops.
The four-legged robotic dog can climb stairs, walk on rough terrains and even recover itself from a blow. It has twice as much as the field of vision of humans and is capable to avoid running into obstacles even if it is commanded to which means it can override human commands.
Owned by Google, Boston Dynamics are making groundbreaking progress in robotics briskly and has emerged as a major player which is going to shape the face of future wars.
2. Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot (SAFFiR)
The 5’10” humanoid autonomous robot SAAFiR is still in development, but it has been making significant progress. SAFFiR’s main objective is to locate fire in the early stages, walk into the fire for rescue operations so that human lives are saved and it can carry out its tasks without any human control. It can respond to gestures and vocal commands.
Being developed by Worchester Polytechnic Institute, researchers are now working on developing algorithms which would enable SAFFiR to navigate in the complex environment of navy ships.
3. Russia’s space-bound humanoid robot FEDOR
FEDOR is one of the newest additions to Russia’s increasing army of robots. Developed by Android Technics and the Advanced Research Fund, this is scheduled to be the first autonomous robot to be in space in the year 2021.
FEDOR for now can take small decisions on its own but it is in the self-learning process. Besides space travelling, FEDOR is also to be incorporated in the Russian military. FEDOR had created a fear and fascination among people when Russian’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin earlier this year (2017) shared a video on twitter where FEDOR was shown firing guns with both its hands at the same time.
Besides shooting, FEDOR can drive a car, screw a bulb, open doors and use tools.
4. Super aegis II
A smart sentry gun, this is one of the most advanced unmanned robots in the world that can be used in a war. Super aegis II is fully capable of firing on its own after locking on a target at even night time with the help of its thermal imaging camera no matter how harsh the weather is upto three kilometers away.
Though it doesn’t require a human assistance, DoDDAM, the South Korean firm that manufactures it, maintains that each robot has been configured so that it cannot fire on its own.
Super aegis II is already in use in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE etc.
MAARS is the successor of infamous SWORDS that fought alongside the US army in Iraq. MAARS is an unmanned combat war vehicle loaded with an M240B machine gun, M203 grenade launcher tubes and a gunfire detection system.
It has been specifically designed to be the first responders in a military exercise and is very agile and more advance comparing to QinetiQ North America’s other unmanned ground vehicles SWORDS and TALON. It is mainly used for now for patrolling places and recording the surroundings. It has a 360 degree vision and the main agenda of MAARS is to kill.
Uran-9 is the child of Russia’s military equipment manufacturer JSC 766 UPTK and unveiled in the year 2016.
Uran-9, an automated unmanned ground combat vehicle, can detect its targets automatically from 6 km away during the day time and from 3 km away during the night and can defend itself.
It is equipped with two anti-tank missile launchers, automatic cannon to defend itself against ground and low flying targets as well as a coaxial machine-gun to kill targets on the ground.
Uran-9 is a perfect killing machine and its defense mechanism incorporated with ability to make decisions make it somewhat invincible.
A recent video showing a robot doing a back flip has gone viral. One of the top comments under the video shared by the Facebook page of Wired is ‘we are all going to die’.
The humanoid robot, Atlas, is the creation of Boston Dynamics and the accuracy needed for completing such complex move which many humans cannot do is being considered a breakthrough in the robotics and is just a glimpse of how fast robots are getting better.
The design and production of Atlas is supervised by United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which means, it will eventually be used in military.
Among the tasks it can do now includes driving a vehicle, removing debris, opening doors, climb a ladder etc.
Uploaded on 16 November 2016, the video has been seen by 10 million times.