January 23, 2005


Robot soldier armed and ready for Iraq battles (MICHAEL P. REGAN, January 23, 2005, AP)

The Army is preparing to send 18 remote-controlled robotic warriors to fight in Iraq.

They will be the first armed robotic vehicles to see combat. Unlike soldiers, they don't need to be trained, fed or clothed. They can be boxed up and warehoused between wars. But officials say they're not the autonomous killer robots of science fiction. They shoot only when a human operator presses a button after identifying a target on video shot by the robot's cameras. [...]

The $200,000 robot runs on lithium ion batteries for 1 to 4 hours. Operators work the robot using a 30-pound control unit that could be replaced by a ''Gameboy'' type of controller with virtual reality goggles.

People think Americans are trigger-happy now, when we actually have to send troops into harm's way? Just wait....

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 23, 2005 10:16 AM

Do we now undertand that the video-game culture is an extension of the gun culture? I feel compelled to renew my comment to the effect that America has a warrior ethos which far surpasses those of Sparta and Prussia.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 23, 2005 10:41 AM

Yeah, the Spartans famously sat around on their couches playing video games while drinking Coke and eating Twinkies.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2005 10:48 AM

Well, they would have, if Twinkies had been a Bronze Age creation. Anyway, the idea of robot soldiers may be exciting enough to even get the Japanese to rearm militarily, just so they can add their to their gaggle of robots used for other purposes today.

Posted by: John at January 23, 2005 11:01 AM

It's always sad when robots replace dedicated human employees.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 23, 2005 11:07 AM

Robot soldiers would not be nearly as useful as invisibility cloaks for real soldiers. Of course, cloaked robot soldiers, that would be the bomb.

Posted by: Moe from NC at January 23, 2005 11:19 AM

I wonder if the Japanese constitution prohibits maintaining a robot army.

Posted by: pj at January 23, 2005 11:26 AM

We should not discount the morale effect. Fighter pilots describe being chased by
guided missles as "soul destroying". Imagine being hunted
by a little scuttling robot with a .50 caliber.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at January 23, 2005 12:22 PM

Battlebots. Imagine a jihadi trying to take on Biohazard, Diesector, or Alcoholic Stepfather.

Posted by: Gideon at January 23, 2005 1:18 PM

Battlebots. Imagine a jihadi trying to take on Biohazard, Diesector, or Alcoholic Stepfather.

Posted by: Gideon at January 23, 2005 1:19 PM

Can we all take turns from home?

Posted by: David Hill, The Bronx at January 23, 2005 2:08 PM

Of course this just gets us closer to the day when the robots will attempt to take over the earth. Haven't you seen the Terminator?

Posted by: Brandon at January 23, 2005 2:36 PM

'Identifying the target'

Rats, there's always a spoiler in the dreams of anihilation.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at January 23, 2005 3:42 PM

Lie on your couch, play videogames, eat twinkies, pay your taxes for superweapons and vote for war.

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 23, 2005 4:10 PM

Safe in the knowledge others will fight it. Hardly Spartan.

Posted by: oj at January 23, 2005 4:40 PM