Here’s the latest exciting — and unnerving — unmanned system to catch our eye: a 1.5-ton robot that shoots the ever-living crap out of things.

Oh, and the manufacturer, Northrop Grumman, most famous for building the B-2 stealth bomber, decided to call it MADSS, as in angry or insane. Perhaps they could’ve been a little more reassuring there.


Here at Breaking Defense, we love our robots. Robots that fight fires, robots that run faster than Usain Bolt, robots that grab obstacles and shove them out of the way, robots that you launch from a catapult and catch on a wire. But the “Mobile Armed Dismount Support System” is something else altogether. MADSS is designed to providing covering fire for foot soldiers — i.e. ones who have “dismounted” from their vehicles — with a variety of plug-and play weapons options, which range from the man-portable M240 machinegun in the video to the M-19 grenade launcher, the famous 0.50 caliber M2, and unspecified still bigger-bore weapons.

It’s crucial to realize that the robot doesn’t just drive around shooting stuff on its own: There’s a human being pulling the trigger, telling it where to aim, and when to shoot — if he lets it shoot at all. “NO auto fire!!!” emailed one Northrop tech when I asked whether the robot could choose to open fire on its own. That said, once the human sets the targets, MADSS can swing its gun back and forth to spray them with bullets all by itself. But that’s a far cry from the killer robots of science fiction: “No Terminators,” one Army officer told me when I asked him about the service’s future plans.


  • Peter

    The advances of combat robotics are all well and nice, but I read that the U.S. soldiers don’t use them because they don’t trust them. Outside of EOD robots, I read that most combat wheeled and tracked robots were regulated to sentry and stationary Guard Duty. This totally defeats the FCS concept then if soldiers do not care to take these combat robots out in the field with them. Even EOD robots with machine guns were often not used for combat alongside troops. Now I am not talking about drones, UAVs, Throwbots, EOD robots, or surveillance robots, but the Unmanned Ground Combat Vehicles (UGCVs).

    In fact, one of the Armed Robotic Vehicles 6X6 was cancelled because I read it got “stuck in a ditch.” The FCS “Mule” ARV….this one.

    I think journalists should look into the attitude of using UGAVs, namely that they do not use them for the mobile patrol duties as they were designed for. It’s similar to the “Light Tank.” The Light Infantry and Airborne Generals want the Light Tank, but the Heavy Armor and Infantry Generals do not, back then citing that it was “Too light to fight” and “Go Heavy or go home. We do not poke fingers at the enemy but hit them with a mighty fist!” Yeah, well, not all conflicts require a Bradley or Abrams on the ground. And now…10-15 years later, the U.S. Army is looking again at the light tank concept again? See, politics and attitude in the DoD…just like attitudes of the soldiers in regards to UGCVs. The same with the “Land Warrior (LW)” concept—generals thought it was great…soldiers didn’t want to lug all that extra electronic weight and didn’t like to be micromanaged with it. So LW died…or was absorbed into other programs.

    • bobbymike34

      I agree a LOSAT or CKEM (a real tank killing weapons system) loaded UGV would provide excelllent flank support for a mobile brigade team in a high intensity conflict with no risk to soldiers.

      • Ineluctable

        Since this is only a mobile platform with one of our guys doing the firing, I don’t see a problem. You can communicate with the guy doing the shooting. Not like the old days or the movies where it will run wild.

  • Al Sharpton

    I need one to send into the repubapuke chamber

    • bobbymike34

      Totally unacceptable comment let’s try and be civil and not want the death of our political adversaries.

    • Ineluctable

      The low class and cheap liberals are desperate due to all the democrat failures.

  • bobbymike34

    I am really hoping for a mini-gun to be mounted on one of these, nickname ‘The Street Sweeper’

  • Ineluctable

    Its a good idea, on an obvious platform. You could mount the weapon on the Big Dog
    also and make it more mobile. Something like this would draw fire though and need to be survivable. It does provide a lot of fire power and can move with the need.