US Army Robot Fires Machine Gun, Internet Watches In Horror

Military games that feature robotic combat drones are normally labelled as “futuristic”, or “near future”. Might need to change that to “contemporary” real soon.

This video shows demonstrations by a number of companies, who were recently presenting their combat robots in front of the US military.

Yes, that is a robot firing an MG-240 machine gun. See the chains? That’s just in case it breaks free (though before you freak out too much, it appears that its firing was being controlled remotely by a human being).

As Motherboard points out in a related story, there are now protest movements springing up against this kind of research, comprised of people who don’t need to have played a Call of Duty game to see where this kind of thing is going.

Don’t worry, it’s not all terrifying glimpses of our impending mechanical demise. There are also self-driving golf carts for a dash of comedy.

Robots with machine guns: U.S. Army sees latest gear [ComputerWorld]


  • Why is the Internet watching in horror? If you had to raid a terrorist base wouldn’t you rather a robot put at risk rather than a soldier’s life?

  • I’ve been saying for at least the last five years that this is the future of the military, Remote controlled vehicles with mounted weapons, and they would be trying to recruit gamers to pilot them don’t tell me you haven’t seen the military recruitment ads in Game Informer.

    This sort of research needs to (but won’t) be stopped, All the 13 year old kids will love this and will be lining up to enlist once they’re old enough, because it’s just like Call Of Duty.


    • Absolutely disgusting! We should be having our fathers, brothers, friends and sons dying instead of risking precious machines!

      Yeah, that’s a little tongue in cheek, but it’s actually a pretty important point. It doesn’t really matter how we’re killing people, whether it’s sending in infantry or using drone strikes, the fact is we’re killing people. So that’s just plain wrong. It is somewhat perverse to think that things should be kept ‘sporting’. It’s also incredibly self-indulgent to sit in a comfortable chair and declare that people who aren’t you should risk their lives for the sake of fair play.

      The BLOPS2 style fear of, ‘what happens when we lose the keys?’ is no bigger a threat than any of the other shit we already have in circulation. Yes, there’ll be risks, but a lot of the outrage I’m seeing around comes from a very weird place.

      • I’m guessing that evilmonkey’s disgust with the idea is more that it might trivialise killing, by turning it into a distanced game. It’s a lot easier to press a button to make a few bright green pixels that represent enemy combatants disappear than it is to shoot a person that is standing right in front of you.

        • Yeah, which is a very strange mentality to take… why is this wrong? Someone somewhere decided that these people have to die. Why is it so important that we fucking traumatize a soldier to do that? Do you have any idea how many suicides are committed in the military from soldiers in active duty? It’s staggeringly high. If some assholes in suits are going to decide that some brown people in another country are going to die, it’s going to get done one way or another… it’s surely more sensible that we don’t harm our own people in the process.

          • I see your points, and I’ll even add one: The stress and human factor of having actual soldiers in combat is more likely to lead to war crimes being committed by soldiers who snap and lose their moral compass. Also, the distance involved with operating an offsite robot may allow more emotionless and logical decisions to be made during combat, which could lead to less unnecessary bloodshed and collateral damage.

          • My great grandfather committed suicide after coming home from the war.

            Shouldn’t we be standing up to the assholes in suits instead of just doing whatever they say.

          • People who do that get run over by tanks or disappeared or just plain… ignored.

            I agree that war is bad and would prefer not to have it, but complaining about the technology used to improve it is like… I dunno.

            Like a vegetarian trying to block measures in place by an meat-producer to make their slaughterhouses more humane. On the grounds that the abbattoirs shouldn’t exist at all. Not going to happen. SO not going to happen. We’re going to eat meat as long as we can grow it. Powerful people will always decide other people have to die, as long as they’re in the way.

            Sometimes you gotta take what you can get.

      • It doesn’t really matter how we’re killing people, whether it’s sending in infantry or using drone strikes, the fact is we’re killing people.

        That’s exactly my point, it doesn’t matter if you do your killing up close and personal or from an armchair hundreds of miles away with a controller, the fact is you’re killing another human being.

        Politicians sit there and declare war, but do you see any of them on the frontline? If they’re going to declare war, how can they honestly expect others to go and fight if they won’t, they’re all a bunch of liars, cheats and cowards as far as I’m concerned (the politicians that is).

        I’m not saying that I want people to risk their lives by going to war at all, I am very anti-war, I would be a very happy man if all the killing stopped and this world never saw another war. But I’m also a realist and I know that’s never going to happen.

        • Sadly, it’s the human condition. Always has been, as long as recorded history, and then all the history that wasn’t recorded which we had to dig up and piece together. Human civilization is built on the bones of the defeated. And the rich and powerful – warlords and kings – have been sending people to die for them without setting foot on a battlefield for millennia, too.

          Whether we ever see another ‘war’ or not, the type like WW2 is debatable, given improvements in technology, the interconnectedness and fragility of the global economy, and the deterrents of mutually-assured destruction. We’re getting there… but for the foreseeable future, the old maxim holds true: If you would have peace, prepare for war. Armed conflict is an inevitability. The high and mighty winners insist on winning so hard and so far removed from the losers that arms are sometimes the only options the disenfranchised have left to take to improve their lot. The scarier the tech those people have to face, potentially the less frequently they’ll choose to face it.

          With eyes wide open to that inevitability, the best we can hope for, for us and ours, is to reduce the risk to our own.

          • I think people are seeing this the wrong way. It’s not a better, deadlier method of killing (least not yet), it’s simply an improvement in safety for soldiers in the field. Why stick your head out of cover to shoot when your remote controlled robot can do it without endangering human life.

            When the robots are controlled from the other side of the world or are allowed to make kill decisions by themselves, then we have a different story.
            But right now, it’s simply a safety improvement, much like better body armour. It’s not a new weapon, it’s a better way of shooting an existing one.

        • It would be lovely if the budget that goes towards killing other people could be spent on helping other people instead. I’m hoping that eventually humanity settles down into a more peaceful existence, but it’s not going to be any time soon unfortunately.

          The money the US spends on their military is CRAZY. TIL: The largest Air Force in the world is the US Air Force. The second largest? The US Navy.

          • Makes you wonder how much more they could spend on health-care and mental health instead of killing foreigners in places that are none of their business. Seems like the most damage being done is to themselves. Wasn’t there another mass murder yesterday? What are they up to now, 1-2 a month?

  • Weaponised robots firing at designated targets doesn’t bother me, but when AI starts choosing targets by itself, that’s when I’ll be concerned.

    “Please put down your weapon, you have 20 seconds to comply.” – That scene did more to scare me than all of Terminator and the Matrix put together.

    • OCP just needed to do more testing on ED209 that’s all.

      They also hadn’t figured out how to get the thing to traverse stairs yet either, although they did give it some animal roaring sounds in-case it fell down them.

      • Y’know, with the schizophrenic culture America has, I rather bet a significant number of them did. They’re quite mad over there, you know. Quite mad.

        • And then some. Send US troops in to the field with outdated and faulty equipment that gets them killed, spend lots on robots so they don’t have to go out in the field.

          What I wonder is what happens when the US is using nothing but robotic weapons and they can’t use the martyr excuse when troops don’t get killed….on no that’s right, you just make shit up

  • Just another form of “killing at a distance”. No different from Cruise Missiles. No different from the B-52 bomber – just more accurate, just a different form. Ever since the Bow-and-Arrow, we’ve been killing at a distance.

    People on the Left oppose drones and mechanized war for one real reason – they feel that it will make Western Countries more likely to go to war. The Left WANTS high casualties because it will make Western countries scared of going to war – anything that could diminish western casualties must therefore be opposed. Which makes sense – if you hate war (as I do), you would oppose technology that made it easier for a side to go to war. And I don’t think the Left “hates” soldiers – true, these robots would reduce casualties, but you know what would reduce casualties even more? Not going to war.

    But the Left are misguided on this issue – this technology exists and it WILL BE USED. The US isn’t the only country doing this – Russia and China have drones. The UK has drones. France has drones. Many countries are investing in Drone technology. Within 50 years, the majority of nations on this planet will have military drones and will have military robots. That is INEVITABLE.

    You know, when Artillery and Explosives were new and cutting edge, you had people opposing them. They said it would take the honor out of combat, that it would be a violation of human rights, since a solider cannot surrender to a shell. Guess what? Didn’t work, everyone built that stuff ANYWAY. If humans can invent it, and if it gives and edge in combat, it WILL be invented and it WILL be used. Trying to stop this technology won’t work. It is better to plan for its inevitable adoption.

  • I like this kind of technology. As long as the robot is not given the decision to fire.
    Think of all the civilians that are killed in war because a soldier scared for their life pulls the trigger too quickly. A robot mounted with cameras and armor and no life to lose can walk into a doorway. Survey a room at no real risk to it’s operators. Then only after it has been fired upon would it’s operators return fire with the benefit of thermal imaging and other technologies.

    Properly used this technology could result in a reduction in casualties on all sides. Incidents could even be video taped and recorded and result in a more transparent operation of the armed forces, serve as evidence for war crimes trials.

    Technology isn’t inherently evil. Properly implemented this could be a very good thing.
    Properly implemented….

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