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Ivan Kirigin's views on Robotics & Culture: future. perfect. progress.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Marines Aided by Robotic Airplane in Iraq

With iRobot's PackBot-EOD, the Predator, the Global Hawk, the Army's Future Combat Systems, and now the ScanEagle, robots are clearly becoming quite important in the military, and very quickly. The speed of adoption is either a signal of the changing culture at the Pentagon, or evidence of how useful these bots are. It's probably a bit of both.

A large decrease in the number of casualties will result in routine tasks (which are the easiest to attack) becoming automated, like autonomous offroad vehicles on supply missions. After the next Grand Challenge, I expect a rate of adoption that will completely eclipse that of robots today. I'm rooting for RedTeam.

Still, the hardest job with many casualties is urban warfare, which pretty much requires a robot that can operate in a restricted setting which humans find quite simple, but is a far harder task than off road driving. Note that even a tele-operated full solution would be very, very hard. It will be a while before we see something like this.


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