Automation and Unmanned Vehicles in the Gulf War

In 1990, when the Gulf War began with Desert Storm, there were not any automation robots on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. In 2004, there were roughly 150 robots assisting military missions. The end of 2008 revealed over 12 varieties of robots numbering over 12000 units.

Robot Missions in War

Robots perform every mission that may cause harm to a human and actually protect humans in that role. An example is detonating bombs. Robots also perform jobs that cause harm to humans. For instance, the Predator, an unmanned aerial flight vehicle, is now capable of being armed.

It’s a double-edged sword that automation builders deal with daily. Automation is in-flight vehicles that perform reconnaissance, fire weapons, find mines, transfer ammunition, and that gather information for intelligence. What does this mean? It means that the world is changing in a way that used to only be seen in movies. At the Kerala Engineering Forum, or KEEN4, held this past January, Dr. Prahled Vadakkepot claimed that robots would soon coexist with humans in daily life. The military advances are making this possible.

Military Robot Interests and Ethics

The military has been interested in building robots since the sixties. Vietnam era programs failed because the technology had not been discovered or arranged. Also, the cost of robotics in the sixties was a bit more costly than today. Electronics have decreased, and technology has advanced. Today, the cost is not being considered when the military needs to have expendable personnel are forthright. Current administrators want 1/3rd of all aerial vehicles to be unmanned by the end of 2010. By 2015, 1/3rd of all ground vehicles should be unmanned. P.W. Singer has written a book that quantifies the new robot revolution and discusses the changes since 9-11.

Since 9-11, the defence budget has increased by $515 billion dollars. DARPA started challenges awarding schools and companies 1 million dollars to be able to derive unmanned vehicles that could traverse various terrains. This lead to a grand challenge where autonomous vehicles drove through an urban environment. Today’s military is interacting with robots daily. Questions that are not at the forefront are the questions that ask; is society ready to allow robots, or remote control vehicles, to make decisions about killing other humans? Is it possible to have unmanned taxis navigating New York City and accepting credit cards as fees?

Civilian Robots on the Move

In the civilian world, Honda has developed ASIMO. ASIMO is considered a humanoid. Honda wishes to be able to sell it at the price of a sedan and have consumers add software programs for whichever package they desire. Software and costs are keeping the humanoid from going to market. However, ASIMO is traveling the world, including seeing the Queen of England.

Whether people agree or not, home automation robots are in the future. They are toys. They are cleaning houses. They are building cars. They are flying missions. Automation is invading life in every small corner. Security and safety and human welfare need to be considered.

toy soldiers with automation suits
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