August 10, 2009

CIA Drone Takes Out Mehsud


Last week, one of the CIA's drones was apparently responsible for the death of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud when it fired two Hellfire missiles at a farmhouse where he and his wife were staying, moving us one up on the evil terrorists. Meanwhile, on a recent "Meet the Press," Pakistani president Asif Ali Zadari mentioned that he wanted his own killer drones. And the remote control war continues.

Via Guardian

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August 5, 2009

Dr. Ronald Arkin Interviewed on Robot Warrior Behavior


We told you a while back about Dr. Ronald Arkin's book "Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots" and his rules for engaging them in war, his main premise being that "intelligent robots can behave more ethically in the battlefield than humans currently can."

He was interviewed in h+ magazine recently and more of his ideas, an updating of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics which includes:

    1. Engage and neutralize targets as combatants according to the ROE.
    2. Return fire with fire proportionately.
    3. Minimize collateral damage -- intentionally minimize harm to noncombatants.
    4. If uncertain, invoke tactical maneuvers to reassess combatant status.
    5. Recognize surrender and hold POW until captured by human forces.

You can read the entire interview at h+.

Sheila Franklin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

July 23, 2009

EATR is Vegetarian


Shades of soylent green. It seems as though some sites got overexcited about the eating habits of the EATR by implying that it may ingest more than just plants. This prompted its makers to issue a message to let us all know that bot won't eat any dead bodies in its path.

"In response to rumors circulating the Internet on sites such as,, and CNET News about a 'flesh eating' robot project, Cyclone Power Technologies Inc. (Pink Sheets: CYPW) and Robotic Technology Inc. (RTI) would like to set the record straight: This robot is strictly vegetarian."

We will buy that, but what about insects and small woodland creatures hidden in the brush?

Via cnet

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July 20, 2009

Cornell Creates Hybrid Insect MEMS


This is one more reason to beware of DARPA. Cornell researchers implanted electronic circuit probes into tobacco hornworms. Once they go through both the pupae and chrysalis stages, the moths can be controlled with them. These insect cyborgs are part of DARPA HI-MEMS (Hybrid Insect MEMS), with its goal to be used in security applications. We expect that the way most humans, including the President, deal with pesky bugs may mean a very expensive method of surveillance destroyed when met by a fly swatter.

Via Technology

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July 10, 2009

NCSU Develops Robo-Bat


North Carolina State University has been developing the Robo-Bat, a remote controlled creature that can produce an entire range of motion but will return to its original position like its living counterparts. Instead of bones, cartilage and tendons, it consists of an elastic shape-memory metal alloy for its joints and other "smart" materials that respond to electric current. The team believes it can be useful in surveillance and learning more about aerodynamics.


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June 22, 2009

Ferret Narc Seeks Out Evils


The University of Sheffield is in the midst of creating a robotic narc. This "ferret" uses lasers and fiber optics to find drugs, weapons, explosives and illegal immigrants! (Do you suppose it checks for a green card?) The 30cm long cargo sniffing bot will be placed in a container at airports or seaports and relay information as it moves inside. Sensors can detect evil drugs and carbon dioxide, which indicates a human. Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the prototype will be tested in about 2 years and ready for work in about 5 years.

Via University of Sheffield

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June 16, 2009

IDF Develops Explosive Carrying Snakebot

Watch out. The next robotic snake you see may blow itself up. Developed mostly for surveillance, the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) 2 meter long snakebot can send audio and video and raise itself up to check out the war scene. Covered in camouflage, it can slither around tunnels, caves, buildings and cracks while being controlled via laptop. It was meant to find those who are buried under collapsed buildings, but in case the enemy's robotic hawk finds it first, it can self-destruct with its packed explosives.

Via Jerusalem Post

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June 11, 2009

DARPA Self Creating Robots


DARPA has yet another project, this one downright spooky. Just as in nature, SELF (the Self-Explanation Learning Framework) is so far only a proposal but it entails having robots that can take part in their own construction, and perhaps repair themselves when needed.

Via The Register

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June 4, 2009

US Army to Spawn Petman


There is always a new move from DARPA and the military when it comes to robotics. This time it is Petman, a humanoid that can stand and walk and react like a human. The Army, who claims Petman is BigDog's big brother, will be using him to test chemical protection clothing. When an agent is released the robot simulates human responses within the suit such as sweating, temperature control and humidity. The robosoldier should be ready by 2011. Maybe by that time, he won't be necessary.

Via Gizmo Watch

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June 1, 2009

Soldiers Bond With Robots

Defense analyst at the Brookings Institution Peter (aka P.W.) Singer recently wrote the book "Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century." In it he claims that soldiers tend to bond with robots such as Packbots and Talon robots. He says that some will risk their own lives for their bots and that some have given them promotions, Purple Hearts and military funerals. We thought all this sounded a bit farfetched until we saw him on the "Late Late Show" with Craig Ferguson last week.

Via P.W. Singer

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