Pentagon Spends $1 Billion To Acquire More War Robots

by | May 22, 2018 | Headline News | 21 comments

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    This report was originally published by Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge

    According to a new report from Bloomberg, the Pentagon is spending approximately $1 billion over the next several years for a variety of robots designed to complement combat troops on the modern battlefield.

    In addition to scouting and explosives disposal, these new war robots will reportedly be able to perform more complex tasks, including surveillance missions, detection of chemical or nuclear agents, and even have the ability to transport soldiers’ rucksacks.

    “Within five years, I have no doubt there will be robots in every Army formation,” said Bryan McVeigh, the Army’s project manager for force protection. He applauded the efforts of the Pentagon to field more than 800 robots over the past 18 months.

    “We’re going from talking about robots to actually building and fielding programs,” he said. “This is an exciting time to be working on robots with the Army,” McVeigh added.

    Bloomberg says the Pentagon has classified its robot platforms into light, medium and heavy categories.

    Last month, the Army awarded a $429.1 million contract to two Massachusetts robotic defense companies, Endeavor Robotics and QinetiQ North America, for miniature size war robots weighing less than 25 pounds. Not too long ago, Endeavor Robotics was awarded two other contracts worth roughly $34 million from the Marine Corps for medium size robots.

    Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System. (Source: QinetiQ) 

    In 4Q17, the Army awarded Endeavor a $158.5 million contract for 1,200 medium size war robots, called the Man-Transportable Robotic System (MTRS), Increment II, weighing around 165 pounds. Bloomberg said the MTRS is designed to detect “explosives as well as chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear threats,” with a deployment date set for the second half of 2019.

    Endeavor Robotics Product Overview. (Source: Endeavor Robotics)

    “It’s a recognition that ground robots can do a lot more, and there’s a lot of capabilities that can and should be exploited,” said Sean Bielat, Endeavor’s chief executive officer. He points out “the dull, the dirty and the dangerous” infantry tasks are being supplemented by war robots.

    The introduction of war robots onto the modern battlefield is undoubtedly intended to streamline tasks in combat situations for infantry troops, but the primary objective is to increase the survivability rate of America’s bravest warriors.

    “The Army’s current approach is to field more inter-operable robots with a common chassis, allowing different sensors and payloads to be attached, along with standardized controllers for various platforms,” McVeigh explained to Bloomberg.

    While Trump signed the record-setting defense spending bill earlier this year, Bloomberg says the addition of robots on the battlefield is geared towards affordability. “If we want to change payloads, then we can spend our money on changing the payloads and not having to change the whole system,” McVeigh said.

    The Army will have a ramp-up period to field the use of its newer, more advanced robots; indications point to more than 2,500 of the medium and small robots will enter the modern battlefield in the next several years.

    Line-up of QinetiQ robots. (Source: QinetiQ)

    “Just strapping a conventional weapon onto a robot doesn’t necessarily give you that much” for ground troops, said Bielat, the Endeavor Robotics CEO. “There is occasional interest in weaponizing robots, but it’s not particularly strong interest. What is envisioned in these discussions is always man-in-the-loop, definitely not autonomous use of weapons.”

    There are significant concerns about the rapid development and deployment of advanced robotic technologies on the battlefield, especially the use of autonomous weapon systems.

    Last year, a group of the world’s leading AI researchers and humanitarian organizations warned about lethal autonomous weapons systems, or killer robots, that select and kill targets without human control. About two dozen countries have called for the ban on fully autonomous weapons, though the U.S. failed to join.

    Killer robots are closer than you think

    “It seems inevitable that technology is taking us to a point where countries will face the question of whether to delegate lethal decision-making to machines,” said Paul Scharre, a senior fellow and director of the technology and national security program at the Center for a New American Security.

    Last August, Tesla’s Elon Musk and over 100 experts sent a letter to the United Nations demanding the organization ban lethal autonomous weapons.

    “Once developed, lethal autonomous weapons will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter warned. “These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways.”

    Peter W. Singer, a leading strategist on 21st-century warfare, chatted with Business Insider about the “the killer robots debate,” and said, “it sounds like science fiction, but it is a very real debate right now in international relations. There have been multiple UN meetings on this.”

    As Singer put it, advanced robotic technologies have opened countless discussions about legal and ethical questions for which “we’re really not all that ready.”

    “This really comes down to, who is responsible if something goes bad?” Singer said, explaining that this applies to everything from war robots to autonomous vehicles.

    “We’re entering a new frontier of war and technology and it’s not quite clear if the laws are ready.”

    It seems like the new frontier of war and technology is ushering in a “Terminator”-style dystopic evolution of warfare. It is inevitable that this new generation of weaponry could quickly make its way out of the military and into the hands of terrorist organizations. Nevertheless, with the Pentagon throwing billions of dollars at defense companies to manufacture war robots, we ask one simple question: what could go wrong?


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        • Eisen, and your point with this multiple post, besides being a little off topic? Who gives a crap what the Chinese are doing with them? Won’t happen in the West.

          As for Skynet,
          “but the primary objective is to increase the survivability rate of America’s bravest warriors.”
          Yeah, right.
          The objective is to be more efficient in killing men, women and children with a clearer conscience.

          “This really comes down to, who is responsible if something goes bad?”
          Like Bush, Clinton, Wolfowitz, Obama, Brennan, Clapper, Hayden?
          And they’re doing this with OUR money, which could be used for a few better things.

          Bring on the end of the dollar as the world reserve currency and just crash the whole financial system, Skynet with it and maybe, just maybe, there would be a measure of peace and prosperity in the world.
          Just a dream..

      1. Robots are good, they will reduce human casualties.

        Don’t try to ban them.

        It might make them mad if you do.

        • Anonymous, we don’t need any stinkin’ robots.

          • You just got yourself on their bad side.

            • Oh so I’m on their bad side? Fine, let them bring it on. ESPECIALLY if they’re PC robots. It will be my pleasure to take them out.

      2. McVeigh, McVeigh:

        Now where have I heard that name before?


      3. McVeigh, McVeigh:

        Now where have I heard that name before?


      4. I still say all of these experiments with robots will be a failure. If it hasn’t happened already, someone will come up with a way to defeat robots. At least someone better if we human species want to survive. I would say an EMP weapon would be best.

      5. B, you mean the patsy of OKC bombing fame? Whatever he knew of the conspiracy he took to the grave with him.

      6. They are emp proof
        Just like are radios and other sensitive items
        Hawkins radio electronics are housed in a copper surround
        Like many other fielded systems

      7. I bet that one in the top picture would clean up on BattleBots.

      8. So, Mac, even using a shortened version of Eisenkreutz’s screen name, like I did above, puts the post in moderation?
        Are you F’n kidding me?
        What for?
        I’m sure you have a reason as it’s not the first time you’ve done this.

        • We don’t control which posts aren’t automatically approved by the system. The ones that aren’t automatically approved have to be manually approved, and we don’t have someone doing that 24/7.

      9. Killer robot soldiers ok but let’s face it guys were waiting on the one that cooks cleans and only speaks when spoken too.
        Guys ,,,, I don’t see the down side for us
        Women on the other hand might not be so enthusiastic lol

      10. Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Maybe a symbiotic relationship? Regardless the question has been debated if the US military soldiers would fire on Americans if so ordered. I won’t address the yea and nay but one thing is for sure. These things sure will.

      11. stumbling towards the Terminator. no one has the guts to say no to this stupidity.

      12. They require no salary nor benefits… win

        • and No VA benefits or medical care….

      13. No need for bravery or courage or any decent traits. The next war heros will be suffering from carpal tunnel injuries from all their sacrificial jerking off at their computers while killing people far away by remote control.

        Roger Waters did a song about the “Bravery of being out of Range”….and as such humanity falls further into the morass of lack of any humanity decency and morality.

        It will be a deserved final destruction of mankind.

      14. Albert Einstein is attributed to have said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’

        Following WW2 and the rampant de-industrialization of the West, there has been a gradual replacement of wood, fabric, leather, metal, and live humans, with plastics, designed for obsolescence.

        Probably following the mutual disarmament pact, prophesied in the Bible, we read of the use of the horse and wooden weapons, being burned for fuel — corroborating Einstein’s prediction of sticks and stones.

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