robotics

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[UPDDATED with Hagel memo & expert comment] REAGAN LIBRARY: After months of build-up, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel formally launched the military’s quest for a combination of new technologies to maintain America’s military supremacy over the next 20 years in the face of Russian and Chinese challenges. In a speech before the second Reagan National Defense Forum here, Hagel divulged… Keep reading →

A Navy patrol boat converted to operate unmanned as part of an Office of Naval Research experiment in autonomous "swarms."

The Navy’s research arm is justifiably proud of its recent experiment with “swarming” drone boats, whose results (with video) were officially released today. But the very thing that’s most impressive about the swarmboats — their ability to act autonomously with minimal human guidance — raises crucial questions about when we can trust a robot to pull… Keep reading →

The first MQ-4C Triton drone to arrive at Patuxent River Naval Air Station.

PATUXENT RIVER NAVAL AIR STATION: The future of Navy long-range reconnaissance, the recently arrived MQ-4C Triton drone, sprawls across its hangar here, with a wingspan 13 feet wider than a Boeing 737 but a body that’s 80 percent lighter. Designed for 24-hour-plus patrols at 50,000 feet, Triton still can’t do the job by itself, say both the program manager and… Keep reading →

DARPA body suit Warrior Web

WASHINGTON: Advocates of military exoskeletons, from the former chief of Special Operations Command on down, like to invoke Iron Man, Marvel’s iconic armored superhero. But there are other models for more modest and more feasible, yet still militarily valuable uses of exosuit technology. So don’t just think of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man. Think of Sigourney… Keep reading →

Lockheed Martin's UCLASS concept.

It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. The “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and… Keep reading →

The U.S. Navy's unmanned X-47B conducts flight operations aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft completed a series of tests demonstrating its ability to operate safely and seamlessly with manned aircraft. Operating alongside an F/A-18, the X-47B demonstrated two successful launch and recovery sequences. The Theodore Roosevelt is currently underway preparing for future deployments. Photo by Alan Radecki.

[UPDATED: Key test goal met] Robots may be the future of war, but for now they’re going to have to share the battlefield with humans and human-operated vehicles. That’s especially tricky in the tight confines of a Navy carrier’s flight deck, where one miscalculation could drive a drone into a manned aircraft, the bridge island, a… Keep reading →

k-max-in-afghanistan-5894571-636x408

A robot helicopter that can carry three tons of cargo, the Marine Corps K-MAX certainly has the cool factor. But does it have a future? After a six-month pilot project in Afghanistan got extended into a 33-month deployment that made 2,250 tons of deliveries, the two experimental aircraft have come home. Prime contractor Lockheed Martin… Keep reading →

An unmanned TerraMax mine-clearing vehicle, followed by equally unmanned TerraMax cargo trucks.

The future of military robotics may not look much like a robot. It may just be a truck that drives itself. That’s the simple, pragmatic approach pursued by Oshkosh — a company better known for trucks than Terminators — with its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle. But after eight years of experiments for three different military… Keep reading →

Army Strykers in Baghdad Iraq -army.mil-2007-05-14-145757

High-tech warfare at knife-fight ranges: that’s the ugly future of urban combat. If you thought Baghdad was bad, with its roughly six million people, imagine a “megacity” of 10 or 20 million, where the slums have more inhabitants than some countries. Imagine a city of the very near future where suspicious locals post every US… Keep reading →

Cover art from the new CNAS study, "20YY: Preparing for War in the Robotic Age."

After our story yesterday on Robert Work and Shawn Brimley‘s disconcerting vision of future robotic war, we got a thoughtful response from Brimley that, with his permission, we’ve published below. The Editors. Bob and I wrote the paper because we feel strongly that there are some powerful trends affecting the relationship between technology and military… Keep reading →

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