Autonomous Killer Robots Essay

1967 words - 8 pages

Robots are around us everyday; many objects surround humans in their households today that could be considered robots. Household robots such as the iRobot Roomba are increasing their appearance in U.S. Households. Robots are powered machines that can complete three tasks: sense its environment, decide, and executes an action. A robot would need to complete a certain amount of decision making to be considered a robot. A child’s toy, like an radio controlled car, would not be considered a robot because a human is in control of all its actions. A military drone is semi-operated. While it is guided by a remote pilot on the ground, the drone is able to navigate its way through the skies on its ...view middle of the document...

When a law enforcement robot is deployed, a human controls its movement and the robot wouldn’t be able to navigate through terrain itself. Some robots qualify in both categories.

The United States has been researching and developing military robots for decades. A German military ‘robot’ marks the beginning of robots in warfare in the 1940s. Named Leichter Ladungsträger Goliath or Goliath tracked mine, this was a military box on treads that was a single use moving bomb. It was controlled through cable that it dragged along and was intended to blow itself up at the destination. These robots were not considered a success due to its limited use, high cost, and low maneuverability. Military robots today now have much more capabilities and are much more advanced than the Goliath tracked mine. Military robots can either be for lethal uses or surveillance and safety.

A variety of purpose built combatant robots are available today. The Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) is a armed robot that is developed by QinetiQ North America. This desk-sized robot is equipped with multiple sensors and lethal weapons. It is aware of its surrounding through cameras that are able to pan, tilt, and zoom. Its laser range finder and gunnery cameras help its barrage of lethal weapons to aim. A grenade launcher, machine gun, and green high power lasers can escalate any situation’s force at any given time. Although requiring a human operator to navigate and fire weapons, MAARS is able to alert the operator of any potential threats around it.

Not all robots are built with lethality in mind. A myriad of robots in use today are deployed to survey an area before police officers enter. These robots are used to relay video from inside a building to a safe remote area outside. It may be used to locate and verify a suspected bomb from a safe distance or check conditions inside an unknown area. In order to achieve these tasks, the robot usually needs a mechanism to open doors, grab obstacles, and manipulate its environment. Usually this mechanism is a claw because it is the most versatile - similar to a human hand, a claw is able to open doors and grab objects. The iRobot SUGV, 510 PackBot, and 710 Warrior are all equipped with a claw. These robots are mobile chair sized military robots with treads, cameras, claws, and durable bodies. While a claw isn’t a lethal weapon, a weapon could be placed into the claw and could operate as a lethal robot. Now this previously harmless robot is now a lethal device with an addition of one small part.

Nothing can be done. Anybody can equip a multiple use robot with a weapon.
One way to restrict lethal robots are to create regulations that the robot must abide to before use. A system of international approval of lethal robots may be put into place to verify a robot’s operation as ethical. However this system would not hold because other robots can be easily equipped with lethal weapons. While those types of robots are not ideal...

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