Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Building the Better Warfighter

Noah Shachtman:

We now know that there are robotic cars smart enough to drive themselves around a city. The next step: give those vehicles automatic weapons, of course.

Enter the Black Knight -- a very early prototype of an "Unmanned Combat Vehicle," developed by arms-maker BAE Systems for the U.S. Army. From the outside, the Knight doesn't look all that different from the armored vehicles used by the American military in combat zones around the world. But soldiers can also get out of the nine-and-a-half-ton Knight, and control the vehicle from afar -- including a custom, one-off 30mm gun and coaxial machine gun.

Or the troops can stay just chill out, and let the thing drive itself. The Knight uses "advanced robotic technology for autonomous mobility," according to BAE. "This capability allows the Black Knight to plan routes, maneuver on the planned route, and avoid obstacles - all without operator intervention..."

Last month, a set of South African remotely-operated 35 mm guns spun out of control, and killed nine soldiers. The Black Knight basically operates under the same principles -- taking that South African weapon, and making it mobile. And radio-operated.

What could go possibly wrong?

Now we're told, this was simple mechanical failure, not hunter-seeker behavior. But apparently this was.

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