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US Drones: Rise Of The Machines?

Updated on January 25, 2012
Predator Shooting Hellfire Missile
Predator Shooting Hellfire Missile | Source
Eagle Eye Drone
Eagle Eye Drone | Source

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.

Group Of Military Drones
Group Of Military Drones | Source
Scout Drone
Scout Drone | Source

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.

Remote Control Center
Remote Control Center | Source

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.

Remote Infrared Video Camera
Remote Infrared Video Camera | Source

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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Snakebot | Source


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    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 5 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow this is so interesting.. I am sharing on pin and tweet and Google.. awesome


    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Credence2 - I suppose it will only get more complex from here, we'll see. Thanks for commenting.

    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Definitely a trend to watch for, we have to wonder how far can we take this technology and to what end?

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Kieran Gracie - True, it is a fine line that is for sure. Only time will tell where this type of technology will lead us I guess.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      I agree that they should have self-destruct mechanisms but I don't think they do. In any case, sooner or later, the bad guys will get their hands on a complete example and copy it. Even with outdated computer software an armed robot would be a deadly weapon against us.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Kieran Gracie - I can agree with that for sure, I hope they are having many debates behind the scenes before haphazardly using them. It is a problem that we don't know what they do with them. But if we did so would the terrorists. The nightmare scenario you describe is actually one I wondered about too. I've read that before predators(drones) have gone down over enemy territory. One would think they would have a self destruct sequence in the case they were found by the enemy and duplicated. They really should have self destruct in all of them.

    • profile image

      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago

      I think that the use of robots is, at first sight, a good thing in the ongoing struggle with terrorism around the world. But there is a backlash developing, as invaded countries show their indignation. There is definitely an ethical aspect to the deployment of these things and, because of the secret nature of their operations that you mention, we are not likely to have any open debates on this. So I find this disturbing.

      Then there is the nightmare scenario where the enemy gets his hands on some of these 'model aircraft' as well. Or sends a rogue Snakebot into the White House.

      We can't stop these new ways of fighting wars remotely, nor do we necessarily want to stop them. But it would be good to know that there are cast iron ethical standards being applied on our behalf.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      maxoxam41 - I was more speaking of the ethics of possible abuse when using the drone such as when it is flown into freindly countries and used without their knowledge and other possible abuses. As for the use of military weapons all together I think it would be great to abolish military completely and for peace to go around the world but have to acknowledge that it would be an impossibility. I do think that curbing and scaling back military spending has to happen though and as you said there is a lack of funding in education, health care and other areas. Getting back to the topic of drones I do think that if the military is determined to fly a dangerous mission it is better to use drones as pilots lives are not being put in danger.

    • terrektwo profile image

      Candle Hour 5 years ago from North America

      Chemistry Book - It can be an interesting topic, besides drones I am sure there is a big future in military robots.

    • maxoxam41 profile image

      Deforest 5 years ago from USA

      Where is the ethic in any form of weaponry, agent orange, the atomic bomb, mines...? How much money financed such sophistication whereas education, health are slacking...?

    • Chemistry Book profile image

      Chemistry Book 5 years ago

      You got into my mind. I was wondering about the american robotic soldiers when I found your Hub. Thank you for sharing.