Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The robots are coming...the robots are coming

A prototype, about four feet high, with a Cyclops eye and a gun for a right
arm, stood in a workshop at the center recently. It readied, aimed and fired at
a Pepsi can, performing the basic tasks of hunting and killing. "It's the first
robot that I know of that can find targets and shoot them," Mr. Everett said.
His colleague, Jeff Grossman, spoke of the evolving intelligence of robot
soldiers. "Now, maybe, we're a mammal," he says. "We're trying to get to the
level of a primate, where we are making sensible decisions."

The hunter-killer at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center is one of five broad categories of military robots under development. Another scouts buildings,
tunnels and caves. A third hauls tons of weapons and gear and performs searches
and reconnaissance. A fourth is a drone in flight; last April, an unmanned
aircraft made military history by hitting a ground target with a small smart
bomb in a test from 35,000 feet. A fifth, originally designed as a security
guard, will soon be able to launch drones to conduct surveillance, psychological
warfare and other missions.