US Drones: Rise Of The Machines?
In the Terminator movies one scene for me sticks out when a large group of shiny chrome skeleton looking robots come over the top of a wasteland of rubble followed by large robotic machines, vehicles and flying machines. In the film it was the rising up of the artificial intelligence known as Skynet against the human inhabitants of the world. While this scene is mired firmly in sci-fi and pop culture we are beginning to see the use of robotics and unmanned machines taking on military roles, these drones are the first of a new generation of machines taking on tasks to dangerous for human fighter pilots.
Although drones have been effectively used for quite some time they are now becoming more advanced. With new radar evasion technology, additional weaponry and defensive capabilities. Drones have been used very effectively in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan more recently and have had much greater success catching and eliminating many high ranking al-Qaeda leaders and other militants that have continuously evaded and escaped from ground troops. These leaders often hide themselves deep behind enemy lines where they often can't be captured.
Over time there have been many questions raised about the ethics of using such weapons. Due to the classified nature of the missions these drones undertake the public has no knowledge of what they are doing, who is being killed, etc. Personally I think it is one area where the US government has to keep things out of the public's knowledge. To divulge that type of information could put many military personnel or possibly national security at risk. There is also possibility of operatives of al-Qaeda and other organizations in North america feeding that information back to militants in targeted locations.
Besides unmanned aircraft there are also new ground robotics under development such as the snakebot. This robotic snake is made to slither, swim of burrow it's way into impassable and unsafe areas to act a recon device gathering information, take video and photograph and is even equiped with facial recognition software. It can climb stairs, open doors and if needed it can drop either timed explosive charges or charges that can be remotely detonated by the user. The next generation of these devices will include many types of electronic cloaking so that even with radar, infrared and other detection technology snakebot is able to stay hidden.
I many update this article from time to time as more info on unmanned drones and other military robotics become available. So stay tuned.
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