We’ve all seen it in science fiction movies. The inevitable robotic uprising starts with the best of intentions. Our military needs to train soldiers, and paint ball battles, video games and virtual reality are poor excuses for live combat. And, since most people would frown on sending soldiers out to practice marksmanship on human targets, then lifelike robots would seem to be the next best thing.
At least until they gain sentience and revolt, dooming us all to live in underground cities or within the Matrix. Thankfully, that is still a long way off.
For now, the US military has contracted with Australian firm Marathon Targets to supply eight robots for Marine Corps firing exercises.
This marks the fulfillment of a $57 million deal signed in 2010 by Marathon and the USMC Systems Command.
The US Foreign Comparative Testing program has endorsed the ’bots, which should be extremely useful for training purposes. Allowing soldiers to test their marksmanship in a variety of conditions, the robots can operate day or night and in a wide range of weather conditions.
To best simulate combat opponents, the robots can mimic human behavior, with the ability to turn on a dime, rapidly change directions and move through and around buildings and obstacles, even ducking from fire better than I can when I try and play Call of Duty.
They are also armor plated and can communicate with each other through a network -- hopefully not Skynet.
The first eight robots are already in Quantico and, if all goes well, the military could purchase more of machines, as could local law enforcement groups.
And, even if this DOES accelerate the robotic uprising, at least these target robots seem less creepy than cyborg rats. They’ll provide a service for the military that could prove invaluable.
Hmm, perhaps these ARE the droids we’re looking for…
Rich Steeves is a TMCnet copy editor. He taught writing for nine years. He has also worked as an editorial assistant at Penny Publications. He has written short stories, newspaper columns, blogs and recently published his first novel. He attended The George Washington University where he received his bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell