Monday, 7 February 2011

Wired: One in 50 Troops in Afghanistan Is a Robot

Wired Magazine's Danger Room has an interesting article about the use of robotics by US Forces in Afghanistan—another aspect of the changing nature of warfare:
There are more than 2,000 ground robots fighting alongside flesh-and-blood forces in Afghanistan, according to Lt. Col. Dave Thompson, the Marine Corps’ top robot-handler. If his figures are right, it means one in 50 U.S. troops in Afghanistan isn’t even a human being. And America’s swelling ranks of ground-bot warriors are being used in new, unexpected, life-saving ways.

But there’s one small problem: however numerous, these rolling and crawling bots are still pretty stupid. And there’s not much hope they’ll get any smarter anytime soon.

Ground bots first made inroads among bomb-disposal units. The human bomb-techs could take cover and steer in a remote-controlled Talon or PackBot to disable a dangerous explosive device. But a third of the 1,400 fresh ground bots deployed to Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010 weren’t for EOD, Thompson pointed out during a presentation at a Washington, D.C. trade show “Robots are not just for explosive ordnance disposal teams anymore … They [ground troops] are using them in ways we never expected.”
 Read the whole thing for useful examples of changing methods of fighting modern wars.


  1. Obviously using robots among bomb-disposal units is a great idea and proves that the ways of fighting wars has changed from WWI and the use of a mobile army, to the use of machine guns to tanks and planes and now to remote control planes and robots.

  2. Although, by now a slightly old article, this Guardian piece not only outlines the types of technology used, but also the morales and consequences behind such development.