The use of robots in military applications is becoming increasingly prevalent. As technology advances, so too does the ability of robots to fulfill various roles in the armed forces.
While there are many benefits to using robots in the military, there are also some potential drawbacks that should be considered.
The Role Of Robots In The Military
Robots are commonly used for surveillance, and bomb disposal. They also provide military personnel with increased mobility, by taking over tedious or hazardous tasks.
Robots can also increase the accuracy of military operations as they do not get tired and make fewer mistakes than humans. In 2019, the market for military robots was valued at USD 13.87 billion.
Humans can perform more effectively when assisted by robots. For example, a robot could load shells into a tank’s gun once the gunner aims it at a target. This removes the need to keep loading shells manually, which is a very dangerous job especially if the tank is being fired upon.
As technology advances, robots are becoming increasingly capable of performing tasks without the need of supervisory control. This will allow a single operator to control multiple robots, but at the same time it may reduce a human’s ability to understand what is happening on the battlefield.
The benefits of using robots in the military are self-explanatory; however, there are also some potential drawbacks that should be considered when weighing options in this area. The first drawback is that while they can perform resupply missions very quickly and accurately, they can only carry limited amounts of supplies with them at any one time.
The military is interested in artificial intelligence for a number of potential applications. These include improving the effectiveness of armed forces, helping to detect and defuse improvised explosive devices, and providing remote control of military vehicles and other equipment.
Types Of Military Robots
The term “military robot” is typically assigned to any unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), robotic soldier, or other similar technology that is used by military forces in order to send robots into the field.
Military robots are usually controlled remotely, with humans making all of the decisions and functioning as the intelligence of the machine itself. These robots can be designed for various purposes, such as transporting supplies or acting as a bomb disposal unit.
MarketsandMarkets forecasted that the military robot business will reach US$30.83 billion by 2022, rising at a CAGR of 12.9 percent over the projected period of 2017–2022. Military robots come in a variety of forms and sizes depending on the necessity.
The use of robotics in the military is rapidly expanding, and it is increasingly difficult to keep track of all the uses this technology offers. Increased autonomy and proximity wireless transmissions are now making it possible to deploy robots in many different roles in the wars that soldiers fight today.
There are many different types of military robots developed for a number of different purposes, but there are several that are often used in conjunction with each other. Some common military bots include unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), robotic bomb disposal units, and human-like combat robots.
1. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Robots
There are many different types of robots used for the purposes of bomb disposal, but the most commonly seen is the Packbot. These robots are effective at clearing bombs from a safe distance and can be controlled remotely by a human operator in another location.
2. Legged Cargo Carriers
There are several robots that are designed to carry items between different locations on a battlefield. These can be useful for carrying ammunition, food and water to soldiers who would otherwise have to walk back and forth through enemy fire to retrieve supplies. They can also carry wounded soldiers out of the battle area quickly and administer first aid on their way back to safety.
3. Armor Enhancements
There are several robots that are designed to provide military vehicles with enhanced armor. These robots as mentioned before are also used for bomb disposal and can also be controlled remotely to provide situational awareness of the battlefield.
4. Homing Robots
There are several robots that have embedded homing devices that allow them to follow a specific path to their target until the last moment possible when the robot must detonate itself in order to defeat its target. These can be useful for setting up landmines or disabling enemy radar systems.
5. Humanoid Robots
These robots may look similar to human beings, but they have no sense of touch, smell or other human senses. They are usually used for reconnaissance, explosive charge disposal and close combat.
6. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs)
These robots have no human in the pilot’s seat, but instead fly themselves to their targets by remote control. They use GPS and satellite tracking systems to find their targets as well as a flight path that will minimize risk of being hit by enemy fire.
These robots are very effective especially in areas where flying an aircraft would be dangerous for the pilot’s safety but not so much for the aircraft itself.
7. Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs)
These robots are controlled from a remote location by a human operator who is situated somewhere safe from enemy fire.
Benefits Of Using Robots In The Military
AUV SandShark, created by Bluefin Robotics, a division of General Dynamics Corporation (US), has a 5 inch diameter and may vary in length from 23 to 60 inches depending on the cargo.
Military use of robots is actually quite new. Robots have been used mainly in industrial settings since they were first created in the early 20th century; however, it is only recently that they have become more widely implemented into military applications.
1. Increased Mobility
If a robot is sent to do a specific task, there is no risk of it being killed or injured by enemy fire. In turn, this makes it easier and safer for soldiers to deploy men on the battlefield.
2. Improved Navigation
Robotic vehicles are able to navigate war zones much more efficiently than humans can. This allows them to reach their destinations much faster, saving the military troops’ time and possibly risking enemy fire in doing so.
3. Reduced Human Error
Since robots are not developing their own strategies, they cannot make the same mistakes that humans often make while on the battlefield. Military robotics therefore reduces human error in combat situations and lowers the likelihood of mission failure.
4. Longer Operation Time
Robots do not have to worry about getting tired, so they can perform certain tasks longer than human soldiers can. This makes them very useful in places where time is an important factor, such as covert operations or search and rescue missions.
5. Combat Efficiency
Nearly 3,000 explosive devices, including mines, were neutralised by Uran-6 robots. Due to the advantages that robots can provide on the battlefield, military officials see them as a better alternative to human soldiers when it comes to combat and warfare.
While it is illegal to use robot soldiers in any capacity, there are rumors that this could change in the near future due to their potential benefits.
6. Cost Efficient
Robots can be produced much more cheaply than humans can. Since they are essentially machines, they do not need to be paid or fed, and they can complete many tasks much faster than humans.
7. Appears Unthreatening
Battlefield Extraction-assist Robot (BEAR), which Vecna Technologies is creating, can rescue soldiers from the battlefield without endangering human life. When a robotic vehicle is sent on a mission, it appears as an inanimate object to the enemy.
This means that it is less likely to be shot at by the opposing side because it does not seem as threatening as a human soldier would. Robots can therefore act as decoys in order to move around safely behind enemy lines or to seek out targets for destruction.
8. Efficient Task To Solve
Military officials see robots as the most efficient way to solve a problem in the field because they do not need to be fed, paid, or housed. For example, when it is time to destroy an enemy missile battery or target, a robot can simply be sent in and accomplish the task quickly and efficiently with little risk.
The technological advancements that will allow for more accurate and easy use of robots in military combat are still in their infancy. As modern robotics becomes more widely implemented into military applications, these benefits will begin to accrue. The future of robotics on the battlefield is looking brighter than ever before.
Disadvantages To Using Robots In The Military
Because of the current trend that is moving towards unmanned military vehicles, there are several key questions that need to be addressed when it comes to their implementation in the field. The biggest question at hand is whether or not these robots have a place on a modern battlefield.
For instance, AeroVironment (US) and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) jointly created and produced WASP, a lightweight, durable, low altitude remote-controlled Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) used by the US for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The use of robots in combat does raise some moral issues for those who are against them. While many proponents discuss the potential benefits robots offer for delivering supplies and medical care, others question whether or not it is right to deploy them on a battlefront where human lives are at risk.
1. Lack Of Human Emotion
Since robots do not have the same emotions as humans, they do not have the same loyalty to their cause. This means that they are less likely to be driven by emotion and abandon their mission in times of emergency. This could lead to a failure in the military operation or a decrease in the overall morale of military troops.
2. Lack Of Human Skills
While robots can be programmed for specific tasks, there is no way for them to develop human skills on their own. Without human interaction, robots cannot learn or practice strategies on the battlefield like humans can. They must be given direct orders, which can sometimes lead to mistakes or wrong execution of those orders.
3. Lack Of Human Connection
Because of the difficulty that humans have in relating to robots, they are often unwilling to sacrifice their lives for them. If a human soldier does not feel like the robot will back them up or save them if needed, he or she may begin to question the value of the robot’s presence on the battlefield.
4. Lack Of Training And Control
Military officials must be careful when it comes to how much they rely on robotic technology because there is no way for them to control these “soldiers” as easily as human troops can be controlled.
Robots are often used in covert operations or black operations, where being able to recall or control them could pose a moral dilemma. These robots can often be deployed to target and destroy without human intervention.
5. Risk Of Malfunction
Since robots are machines, they are more likely than humans to malfunction in extreme conditions on the battlefield. If their circuits burn out or their batteries die, they may not be able to accomplish their goals in a timely manner. This could result in the military loss of valuable troops and supplies that may have been saved by a robot.
6. Distraction From Developing Human Skills
Military officials need to focus on developing strategies and tactics for how humans can best utilize robots in the field for battle. Since robots cannot develop their own strategies, battles cannot be won if they are not used strategically.
7. Potential Obsolescence
Due to the short amount of time that humans have been using robotic technology, there is no way of knowing whether or not they will be useful in the future military application. This means that more advanced and better functioning robotic technology will likely force them out of the military use, forcing humans back into action on the battlefield.
8. Lack Of A Specialized Design
Since robots are not being designed with specialized skills on their own, they are likely to be more expensive and less efficient than human troops. This means that using them may not be cost efficient as it is possible to replace a robot with a human in its place.
This negative aspect can be minimized, however, if the military can implement technology that utilizes robotic technology more efficiently.
Autonomous Military robots are increasing, with some recent models being designed for shipboard autonomous firefighting robot and advanced combat. Robotics experts believe that the trend will continue, with ever-more capable machines being developed for a variety of military applications.
Some worry about the implications of such autonomy, however, with concerns being raised about everything from battlefield ethics to the potential for hacking or other malicious interference.
As the United States Army looks to the future, it is examining a number of different options for its defense systems. One option that is being considered is the use of ground robots, which would autonomously patrol areas and carry out missions without the need for human soldiers.
This would allow the army to reduce its manpower requirements, as well as freeing up soldiers for other tasks. The army is also interested in the possibility of using autonomous robots in other roles, such as in combat situations.
The U.S. Army is developing a new generation of fully autonomous robots to perform combat tasks, including explosive ordnance disposal and heavy artillery fire. The new robots will be equipped with electronic warfare capabilities and will be able to operate in all environments.