Military robot

Military robots are autonomous robots or remote-controlled mobile robots designed for military applications, from transport to search & rescue and attack.

Some such systems are currently in use, and many are under development.

Broadly defined, military robots date back to World War II and the Cold War in the form of the German Goliath tracked mines and the Soviet teletanks. The MQB-1 Predator drone was when “CIA officers began to see the first practical returns on their decade-old fantasy of using aerial robots to collect intelligence”.

The use of robots in warfare, although traditionally a topic for science fiction, is being researched as a possible future means of fighting wars. Already several military robots have been developed by various armies. Some believe the future of modern warfare will be fought by automated weapons systems. The U.S. military is investing heavily in research and development towards testing and deploying increasingly automated systems. The most prominent system currently in use is the unmanned aerial vehicle (IAI Pioneer & RQ-1 Predator) which can be armed with air-to-ground missiles and remotely operated from a command center in reconnaissance roles. DARPA has hosted competitions in 2004 & 2005 to involve private companies and universities to develop unmanned ground vehicles to navigate through rough terrain in the Mojave Desert for a final prize of 2 million.

Artillery has seen promising research with an experimental weapons system named “Dragon Fire II” which automates loading and ballistics calculations required for accurate predicted fire, providing a 12-second response time to fire support requests. However, military weapons are prevented from being fully autonomous; they require human input at certain intervention points to ensure that targets are not within restricted fire areas as defined by Geneva Conventions for the laws of war.

There have been some developments towards developing autonomous fighter jets and bombers. The use of autonomous fighters and bombers to destroy enemy targets is especially promising because of the lack of training required for robotic pilots, autonomous planes are capable of performing maneuvers which could not otherwise be done with human pilots (due to high amount of G-force), plane designs do not require a life support system, and a loss of a plane does not mean a loss of a pilot. However, the largest drawback to robotics is their inability to accommodate for non-standard conditions. Advances in artificial intelligence in the near future may help to rectify this.

A brief overview of some unmanned vehicles in use in the US Army will now be given. It is to be distinguished in the following groups.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
Unmanned Ground Vehicles
Unmanned Surface Vehicles
and in the field of autonomous weapon systems

Most early UAVs were essentially nothing more than human-controlled aircraft, sometimes supplemented by simple flight support systems such as automatic stabilization, speed control, and the like. It is hardly possible to speak of actual autonomy. In general, it must be noted that, in contrast to the technology in the field of aircraft technology in the field of autonomy is only at the beginning of development. Within the American armed forces is also by no means clear how far the autonomy of the UAVs should ever reach, because one fears problems, as more and more manned and unmanned aircraft have to share the airspace. This is aggravated by the fact that both Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force have their own manned and unmanned aircraft in use and these are not centrally coordinated. The range of deployed UAVs ranges from large reconnaissance aircraft such as theGlobal Hawk in 20 km mission height to small so-called miniature UAVs which are used in a few hundred meters height of individual units for reconnaissance.

The attitude of the soldiers in the degree of autonomy of robots was summarized by a technician with the phrase “Make them dumber”. As early as 2001, the US Army had put into service an autonomous explosive search engine for vehicles, which automatically scanned the underside of a vehicle and in case of a find alarm (Omni-Directional Inspection System – “Odis”). In practice, however, it became clear that this was not accepted by the soldiers and that the robot, which was actually thought to be an autonomous system, is now remotely controlled by the soldiers.

The US Air Force predicts Booth 2013 such progress in the development of autonomous weapons systems that about 2030 man only would be a disturbing factor.

Especially in the field of intelligent ammunition, research in sensor technology and artificial intelligence has been suppressed. Largely unnoticed by the public are semi-autonomous systems such as precision ammunition and autonomous systems such. For example, the “Quick Kill” Active Protection System is already in use in many armies.

Automated target search concepts are also being implemented in modern cluster bombs or are currently in development.

Unmanned aircraft

Honeywell RQ-16A

The Honeywell Micro Unmanned Air Vehicle also called Hawk is a so-called “Vertical Take-Off and Landing Vehicle”, d. H. it can move like a helicopter. It is used at train level for reconnaissance. Often it also flies to search for IEDs (unconventional explosive devices) in front of a convoy.


The Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle is used for target identification and target observation. It automatically circles over the designated destination and sends video signals.

RQ-11 Raven

The Raven is currently the most popular Micro UAV with more than 8,000 pieces and is used in addition to the American and several European armies. It can be remotely controlled or autonomously monitor an area via GPS coordinates.

RQ-7 Shadow

The Shadow is a so-called Battlefield system and consists of four aircraft and control station as well as ground personnel. His role is in the perpetual education and surveillance of an area. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the system has delivered over 37,000 mission flights over the last three years.

MQ-8 Fire Scout

The Fire Scout is an autonomous reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting UAV developed from a standard helicopter. In the final stage of the Firescout is to be able to operate 72 hours continuously in the air. With its targeting ability, it is an integral part of FCS ‘Non Line of Sight Systems. An armed variant exists, but it is currently being developed by the military not forced.

Predator and Reaper

The RQ-1A / B Predator and its evolution of the MQ-9 Reaper will also be deployed as a single system rather than a single aircraft, comprising four aircraft, one ground station, one satellite link and 55 people. The system is designed for continuous use, ie. H. it is designed for 24 hours a day. The Predator is controlled by one pilot and two copilot, who are responsible for the sensors. The range of tasks of the Predator includes reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting as well as combat missions in its armed version. With a weapon of 450 kilograms, a Reaper can operate 42 hours in the air. Reaper are also used in the US for border control.

Global Hawk

The Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk is a high-flying long-range reconnaissance aircraft. The planned by the Bundeswehr introduction was stopped in May 2013 by the Federal Ministry of Defense, as the drone would not get approval in European airspace.

Unmanned ground vehicles

The Foster-Miller Talon is a remote-controlled robot system used primarily to defuse explosives. Depending on the equipment, however, this system is also designed for reconnaissance and combat missions. Depending on the equipment, the robot weighs between 27 and 45 kg and has already been used at Ground Zero.

Talon Swords
The SWORDS (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System) is the first ground-based remote-controlled armed robotic system. Weapons are either automatic weapons or missiles (eg M202A1 FLASH (Flame Assault Shoulder Weapon)). The use in Iraq found broad and especially critical media coverage even though there was no combat mission.

The Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System is the further development of the Talon SWORDS. As there were concerns about the suitability of the SWORD for the military, the design, controls and chassis were completely redesigned within a very short time.

The Packbot is one of the most widespread robots with over 2000 units in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is mainly used to defuse explosives. Equipped with a “Fido Explosives Detector”, he achieves the same success rate in detecting explosives as the best trained dogs. The new Packbot models can be steered with a control device modeled after the game controllers.

Dragon Runner
The Dragon Runner is a robot designed for use in urban areas. It weighs only four kilograms and is designed so that you can throw it down through windows, from a moving car or a staircase. Through a camera and motion sensors, he then gives the soldiers a picture of the tactical situation.

BigDog is a four-legged transport robot developed among others in collaboration with Boston Dynamics and Harvard University. His performance had caused quite a stir in public and Big-dog is considered a reference project for the implementation of four-legged movement.

The “Battlefield Extraction Assist Robot” is a two-meter-tall humanoid robot for transporting wounded people from the battlefield and has a carrying capacity of 135 kilograms. It can also be used for loading and transporting heavy goods. The robot’s face, reminiscent of a teddy bear, is intended to reassure wounded soldiers.

Crusher is the official name for this 6.5-ton autonomous all-terrain UGV. It was developed at Carnegie Mellon University, one of the three major robot development centers in the United States.

Mule and ARV
The Multifunctional Utility / Logistics and Equipment Vehicle or the Armed Robotic Vehicle is designed as an infantry support system. It consists of transport systems, reconnaissance systems and armed systems. The systems are equipped with an autonomous navigation system and able to follow a command vehicle or soldiers or to drive autonomously to a certain point in the area or to support the soldiers in the fight. The delivery is planned for the year 2010.

Since 2008, the Israeli military has been testing the Guardium on the border with the Gaza Strip. He is up to 80 km / h fast and can also be armed.

Unmanned Underwater Vehicles

Spartan Scout and Bluefin
Unmanned Surface Vehicles or Autonomous Underwater Vehicles, these types of vehicles have only been rediscovered in recent years and have been deployed in Afghanistan. In addition to obviously remote-controlled or autonomous systems systems are already common, which are not called as robots, but they are quite similar.


In current use
DRDO Daksh
Elbit Hermes 450 (Israel)
Goalkeeper CIWS
IAIO Fotros (Iran)
RQ-9 Predator B
RQ-1 Predator
Samsung SGR-A1
Shahed 129 (Iran)

In development
US Mechatronics has produced a working automated sentry gun and is currently developing it further for commercial and military use.
MIDARS, a four-wheeled robot outfitted with several cameras, radar, and possibly a firearm, that automatically performs random or preprogrammed patrols around a military base or other government installation. It alerts a human overseer when it detects movement in unauthorized areas, or other programmed conditions. The operator can then instruct the robot to ignore the event, or take over remote control to deal with an intruder, or to get better camera views of an emergency. The robot would also regularly scan radio frequency identification tags (RFID) placed on stored inventory as it passed and report any missing items.

Tactical Autonomous Combatant (TAC) units, described in Project Alpha study Unmanned Effects: Taking the Human out of the Loop.
Autonomous Rotorcraft Sniper System is an experimental robotic weapons system being developed by the U.S. Army since 2005. It consists of a remotely operated sniper rifle attached to an unmanned autonomous helicopter. It is intended for use in urban combat or for several other missions requiring snipers. Flight tests are scheduled to begin in summer 2009.

The “Mobile Autonomous Robot Software” research program was started in December 2003 by the Pentagon who purchased 15 Segways in an attempt to develop more advanced military robots. The program was part of a $26 million Pentagon program to develop software for autonomous systems.

Atlas (robot)
Battlefield Extraction-Assist Robot
Dassault nEUROn (French UCAV)
Dragon Runner
Ripsaw MS1
iRobot Warrior
Excalibur unmanned aerial vehicle

Effects and impact

Autonomous robotics would save and preserve soldiers’ lives by removing serving soldiers, who might otherwise be killed, from the battlefield. Lt. Gen. Richard Lynch of the United States Army Installation Management Command and assistant Army chief of staff for installation stated at a conference:

As I think about what’s happening on the battlefield today… I contend there are things we could do to improve the survivability of our service members. And you all know that’s true.

Major Kenneth Rose of the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command outlined some of the advantages of robotic technology in warfare:

Machines don’t get tired. They don’t close their eyes. They don’t hide under trees when it rains and they don’t talk to their friends… A human’s attention to detail on guard duty drops dramatically in the first 30 minutes… Machines know no fear.

Increasing attention is also paid to how to make the robots more autonomous, with a view of eventually allowing them to operate on their own for extended periods of time, possibly behind enemy lines. For such functions, systems like the Energetically Autonomous Tactical Robot are being tried, which is intended to gain its own energy by foraging for plant matter. The majority of military robots are tele-operated and not equipped with weapons; they are used for reconnaissance, surveillance, sniper detection, neutralizing explosive devices, etc. Current robots that are equipped with weapons are tele-operated so they are not capable of taking lives autonomously. Advantages regarding the lack of emotion and passion in robotic combat is also taken into consideration as a beneficial factor in significantly reducing instances of unethical behavior in wartime. Autonomous machines are created not to be “truly ‘ethical’ robots”, yet ones that comply with the laws of war (LOW) and rules of engagement (ROE). Hence the fatigue, stress, emotion, adrenaline, etc. that affect a human soldier’s rash decisions are removed; there will be no effect on the battlefield caused by the decisions made by the individual.

Human rights groups and NGOs such as Human Rights Watch and the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots have started urging governments and the United Nations to issue policy to outlaw the development of so-called “lethal autonomous weapons systems” (LAWS). The United Kingdom opposed such campaigns, with the Foreign Office declaring that “international humanitarian law already provides sufficient regulation for this area”.

In July 2015, over 1,000 experts in artificial intelligence signed a letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. The letter was presented in Buenos Aires at the 24th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-15) and was co-signed by Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, Skype co-founder Jaan Tallinn and Google DeepMind co-founder Demis Hassabis, among others.

American soldiers have been known to name the robots that serve alongside them. These names are often in honor of human friends, family, celebrities, pets, or are eponymic. The ‘gender’ assigned to the robot may be related to the marital status of its operator.

Some affixed fictitious medals to battle-hardened robots, and even held funerals for destroyed robots. An interview of 23 explosive ordnance detection members shows that while they feel it is better to lose a robot than a human, they also felt anger and a sense of loss if they were destroyed. A survey of 746 people in the military showed that 80% either ‘liked’ or ‘loved’ their military robots, with more affection being shown towards ground rather than aerial robots. Surviving dangerous combat situations together increased the level of bonding between soldier and robot, and current and future advances in artificial intelligence may further intensify the bond with the military robots.

Ethics discussion
In general, two areas of the exercise of lethal force by a robot can be distinguished: On the one hand in robots that have no autonomy and as a machine extension of the soldier (extension of the warfighter) apply. Here are no direct ethical problems. These are also the vast majority of currently used systems.

On the other hand, in robots as at least partially autonomous agents. In this case, the robot acts autonomously either in support of a military operation or for self-defense. In this case, an artificial intelligence must be developed that can make decisions about legitimate goals in armed conflicts. At present, there is no agreement on whether it is possible to create such a complex artificial intelligence on the one hand, and on the other hand, whether it is desirable that an artificial intelligence makes such decisions.

To solve the problem of unmanned weapons systems, three approaches have emerged:

The demand for a general ban on autonomous weapons systems.
The demand to equip unmanned weapon systems with an “ethics module” that allows the weapon system to make a legal and ethical justifiable decision based on the situation.
The demand that unmanned systems should target enemy weapon systems rather than enemy soldiers.

Legal aspects
These robots pose ethical and legal problems. This has led associations or NGOs to raise awareness of these issues to regulate the use of these military robots. Military robots must be used in compliance with international law and in particular humanitarian law. According to Professor Michael Schmitt, the current uses of these robots in particular by the United States are limited by the humanitarian law but these robots are not illegal as such even to consider that their autonomy is increased.

Francophone writers have paid less attention to the issue. According to T. Sadigh, depending on the case, these robots may be illegal in themselves and humanitarian law limit their autonomy.

There is resistance against autonomous combat robots, who completely decide for themselves whether to shoot at a person or not (lethal autonomous weapons). The British initiative Landmine Action, which advocates outlawing land mines and cluster bombs, now also wants autonomous combat robots to be ostracized internationally, since the decision in a combat action on the killing of a person should never be made automatically by a machine.

On September 30, 2009, under the direction of Noel Sharkey, the International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) was founded, which aims to limit the military use of robots.

More than 1,000 international scientists and entrepreneurs called for a ban on killer robots in an open letter in 2015. Among them the physicist Stephen Hawking, the Apple co- founder Steve Wozniak and the CEO and investor Elon Musk (Tesla, PayPal). They warn of a new arms race and the threat of uncontrolled proliferation of weapons to warlords, dictators and terrorists. Similarly, Angela Kane, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, had responded in 2014,

The non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch coordinates the “Campaign to Stop Killer Robots,” the members of 64 organizations in 28 countries (as of September 2017). The German division, based at Facing Finance, reports that formal talks have been held in the context of the United Nations CCW negotiations (CCW = Convention on the Prohibition or Restriction of the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons causing Excessive Suffering or Discrimination) can).

The United Nations has been installing the UNICRI Center for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in The Hague since September 2016 to examine the challenges, opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence. The United Nations fear that the world could be “destabilized” by developments in this area. At the United Nations in Geneva, the legal, ethical and security issues of the potential use of these weapons systems are discussed.

At the same time, there are voices that make combat robots progress that can save lives.

In popular culture

In science fiction films and TV shows
Fighting robots featured in such films as Law-abiding Citizen, Short Circuit, Terminator, Terminator: Fight for the Future (TV series), Transformers, Death Machine, Robocop, The Matrix, Orion Loop, Red Planet, Inhabited Island, A Robot named Chappi.

In anime and cartoons
Fighting robots featured in such anime as Wolf Rain, Evangelion, Code Geass, Robotech, Jinki Fighting Robots, Steel Anxiety, and such animated series as Echo-Platoon and The Life and Adventures of a Robot is a teenager. Military transforming robots, characters from a number of American and Japanese animated series such as The Transformers, Transformers: Pitheads, Transformers: Warriors of Great Power are very famous and popular., Transformers: Victory, Oblivion and many others.

In computer games
Fighting robots featured in games such as the Series the Command & Conquer, Anarchy Online, of Half-Life, Portal (turret), of StarCraft, Supreme is Commander, for Walking War Robots, Series of MechWarrior, computer game series of Warhammer 40,000, of Total Annihilation, MechCommander, Metal Gear Solid, Battlefield 2142, Company of Heroes (Goliath), Furs MAU Bellato (RF Online), Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Call of Duty,Mass Effect (Geth, LOKI, YMIR, etc.).

Source from Wikipedia