The way wars are fought has changed exponentially since world war II. Undetectable drones, ballistic missiles which can be launched from 1000s of kilometers to the enemy territories, or be it the terrorists who maybe has blended in the place you are right now, the lethality has increased significantly. The budget required to keep up with the advancing technologies has also increased considerably. Recruiting a soldier costs $15000, and treating an injured soldier costs around $2M a year. Can there be any reduction in those costs by using AI?
If robots are used to fight wars, the quicker, more robust, and more accurate robots will determine the winners. These kinds of battles are unimaginably destructive. If autonomous robots are used in wars, soldiers will have more responsibilities, not less; they will have to perform normal tasks and use robots per requirements. Studies have shown that soldiers’ performance decreases on the battlefield when a robotic task is added to them. So, it does not offer any advantages for the participants, and sometimes it even increases the difficulty. Having context(situational awareness) is essential for robots. Defining objects that are unfamiliar to the robots is one of the most challenging tasks. The soldier variables used and considered contextual conflict constructs are paralinguistic, demographic, visual, and physiological variables.
Robots, AI in war, and ethics
Current AI military technology
With the advent of computer vision, drones, and AI, there have been dramatic advancements in military technology. There are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and other weapons which can autonomously launch missile attacks. There are also armed robotic vehicles and autonomous surveillance vehicles in the military. There are robots in the Korean demilitarized zone which can automatically shoot down people.
Ethics of using robots in combats
Pros of using robots.
- Robots can make sacrifices themselves when needed.
- Much accurate, quick, and can do tasks effectively.
- No emotions, so they can do tasks without fear and other emotions
- Better decision-making in stressful times
- Analyze information way faster
- Fast and cheap to maintain
- The above factors lead to an increased chance of winning
Cons of using robots.
- Who is to blame if something goes wrong, like it performs unethical actions on its own?
- Countries with advanced robotic tech will have an advantage and will be undefeatable.
- Robots may harm innocent civilians as they can’t differentiate
- Wrong hands getting hold of advanced tech will be a disaster
- The possibility that the robots may go rogue,
If robots are ever used in warfare, then it should be made sure that the ultimate control is with humans no matter what. The ethical side of using robots in warfare is always debatable, and it is hard to reach a particular conclusion.
Some of the top military robots that are being used:
MUTT- Multi-Utility Tactical Transport
MUTT accompanies the soldiers and carries equipment that eases travel while traveling on foot in difficult terrains. It can carry 1200 pounds of weight and provide up to 3000 watts of power, and travel 60 miles on a single fill.
More information can be found here.
RiSE, a climbing robot by Boston Robotics, has micro-clawed feet that allow it to deftly scale rough surfaces, including walls, fences, and trees. It is being developed in association with Stanford University, Carnegie Mellon University, U.C. Berkeley, Lewis & Clark University, Boston Dynamics, Inc., and Stanford University. The RiSE project aims to build a bioinspired climbing robot with the unusual ability to walk on land and climb vertical terrain. The DARPA Biodynotics Program is funding this project.
A 9 mm Glock pistol-equipped tactical combat robot named DOGO, was developed to function as a watchdog for soldiers in battle. This robot, created by General Robotics, is the terrestrial version of the common combat drone. The most intriguing aspect of DOGO is that a fully armed commando can carry it in one hand while only weighing about 26 pounds. For more details, here.
The surveillance robot Guardbot can roll on any surface, including sand, snow, and dirt. This surveillance robot can move around on any surface and even swim. Guardbot, initially created for expeditions to Mars, is outfitted with two security cameras, GPS, a battery that can last for 25 hours, and microphones. enabling satellite control and remote control. More info here
A skilled warfighter is one who is capable of finding, verifying, determining, and eliminating dangers, including landmines, unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and moving forces. Centaur is a medium-sized unmanned ground vehicle that may be controlled remotely (UGV).more info here.
In all types of warfare, it employs a small-to-medium-sized mobile robotic device to reduce risk and eliminate hazards to Marines. It has the appearance of a small tank, but its basic configuration allows it to carry out duties such as people obstacle breaching, NBC reconnaissance, direct fire, and scout/surveillance.
It is a military robot that stands 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 143 pounds—developed by researchers at Virginia Tech. This is one of the most autonomous military robots utilizing advanced military technology. The ultimate goal of SAFFiR is to extinguish a fire on a warship. here.
AVATAR III is Robotex’s tactical robot. His SWAT team can use it in the military to protect human soldiers who normally carry out this type of operation. This robot improves the skills of law enforcement and first responders by enabling them to safely and quickly investigate dangerous situations. AVATAR III is fully customizable with a plug-and-play payload bay, allowing users to configure the robot to their needs. here
The six-wheeled semi-autonomous UGV is armed with a 7.62 mm MAG machine gun and can self-destruct if it falls into enemy hands.
Prathvik is ML/AI Research content intern at MarktechPost, he is a 3rd year undergraduate at IIT Kharagpur. He has a keen interest in Machine learning and data science.He is enthusiastic in learning about the applications of Machine learning in different fields of study.