The military is going fully robot — with an ever-expanding arsenal of warriorbots designed to perform dangerous tasks in otherwise dangerous environments.
The newest combat robot from a powerful British firm recently made its debut at the 2017 Army Expo in Washington, D.C., where it may have given members of Congress the willies — and definitely seemed to disquiet some passersby.
The airborne robot is operated by a smart platoon commander who can use its retractable machine gun to send spotters to accurately position snipers in places they’re unlikely to be found by normal soldiers. Faced with this problem, unit commanders have slowly adjusted to drones in the past few years, adding more ground-based UAVs to disguise their presence. With machines armed with these guns, a human could still have access to the site. But the ability to strike a distant target blind (or with accurate but unsupervised fire) brings the robot down into the same level of threat as regular soldiers.
The new creature embodies a core British element of technological warfare, embedded in robotic infantry units since the 1700s — an organization known as the “riverside regiment.” It combines elements of both offensive and defensive combat, notably using explosives to demolish cover and convey troops to combat — and then, depending on the situation, setting up sniper and machine-gun positions. The border regions between countries have become more dangerous, especially as pressure for control of people smuggling routes mounts. By using bots like this, the military can survive possible enemy defeats while letting humans return home in a difficult situation.