People talk about futuristic technology all the time. We only see modernistic machines in films like Star Wars or The Terminator., so we naturally deem things like robotic soldiers and flying cars to be too advanced or simply fictional… Hmm, not really. We’re actually closer to achieving these levels of technology than we think. There are, in fact, existing robotics and engineering companies that focus on the advancement of our technologies for purposes like warfare, and home and community services.
War is part of human nature, and a new one will surely break out in the future. Whether it’s small scale or a World War, soldiers will risk their lives for their countries. Being mortals, one bullet is all it takes to end their lives.
If countries were to use robots instead of humans, however, fewer lives will be taken.
Here are two unmanned robots that we know:
Black Hornet is an unmanned aerial vehicle for reconnaissance missions which is only 10cm long. It has a 2km flying range, and because of its size, it is stealthy and quick. This sneaky guy was created by Prox Dynamics AS and is currently used by the U.S., the U.K., [A1] France, Germany, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, and India.
BigDog was a robot by Boston Dynamics that the military used. It is a dog-shaped robot that weighs 110kg, is 0.91 meters long, and is 0.76 meters tall. It can walk on difficult terrains and can climb up a 35-degree slope. It can carry up to 150kg of soldiers’ baggage. The main problem with this robot was the sound from its parts. Although this robot helped reduce our soldiers’ fatigue during long reconnaissance missions, its loudness was just too much for combat. It was formally discontinued in 2015. [A2]
If we want to save our human soldiers[A3] , how about using humanoid robot soldiers that can carry guns or have them built-in to annihilate the enemies? They can withstand dozens of bullets before they malfunction, and they can be repaired instead of being buried in the cemetery.
As the name suggests, humanoid robots are humanlike machines[A4] . Some have human features to aesthetically resemble us, [A5] while others only have two legs and two arms. In the movie The Terminator, the robot T-800 is a humanoid robot that completely resembles a human[A6] . It can talk and walk like any human, but its mind is programmed[A7] , meaning, it doesn’t independently think as humans do. If we see these robots today, it will be hard to determine[A8] whether they’re human or not.
Despite our technological progress, however, we’re yet to meet that kind of technology. The closest thing we have to a mobile humanoid robot is Atlas. [A9]
Atlas is a humanoid-shaped robot that can do several human movements. It can run up to 1.5 m/s, jump, roll, do basic parkour and handstands, and even backflips. It is1.5 m tall and weighs 80 kg. Its legs are equipped with hydraulics for jumping and efficient mobility. Its components are 3D printed to give it a balanced strength-to-weight ratio for its acrobatic acts. Boston Dynamics, the company that created BigDog, also created Atlas’. It was first shown to the public on July 11, 2013, and is considered one of the most advanced humanoid robots ever created.
Meet Sophia, the social humanoid robot by Hanson Robotics. She has one of the most unique features of all robots. She is capable of processing visual data, recognizes human gestures and voices, shows facial expression, and holds basic human conversations. She is the framework for developing Artificial Intelligence and advancing robotics technology. She’s attended a United Nations conference and did a speech on technology and artificial technology. Her AI system is networked using a protocol called Synthetic Organism Unifying Language (SOUL). She has two modes of operations that the developers use depending on the situation. The first one is her AI autonomous mode where she generates her own words and understanding during a conversation. The second one is generated by humans via a computer where she repeats the words written by her developers. Soon she will be smart enough to take over the world… err, I mean smart enough to hold better conversations without the help of her human developers.
If humanoid robot soldiers are still out of reach, what are we doing to at least help our soldiers?
The answer? The Super Soldier. As is implied, Super Soldiers have super strength and godly aims, but unlike anything we’ve seen in movies, they weren’t created by giving normal soldiers the super-soldier serum—or at least not yet. Our Super Soldiers are instead equipped with an exoskeleton, making them more like robotic super-soldiers. The company Lockheed Martin created an exoskeleton that will help soldiers in the field. It increases the user’s mobility and decreases fatigue. Less stress means more stamina and endurance, and less chance of injuries from physical fatigue. The current prototype [A12] is called the ONYX Suit which has already been tested by soldiers. With it, they will look half machine and half human, almost like Robocop.
Soon, our soldiers and police forces will be replaced by either AI robots or humans with super mechanical suits. That will also make future wars more dangerous and terrifying. But we have to admit, trying out robotic suits and hiring AI guards and butlers sure are things we can’t wait to try. A scary yet exciting future awaits us all.