07. February 2005 · Comments Off on Robot Warriors · Categories: General

When stories about battlefield robots move from the technical and military journals to the business pages, you know real-life application is right on the horizon. I give you this from Forbes:

And although none are able to fire weapons on their own, automated or remote-controlled machines are sniffing out mines, defusing explosives and watching for signs of danger. Soon some of them will also be carrying weapons. In 2005, autonomous planes alone could represent a $2 billion market, according to the Steve Zaloga, an analyst at The Teal Group. Roboticists, who have long toiled mainly in academia, are eager to see their creations put to use. And companies such as Lockheed Martin (nyse: LMT – news – people ) and Boeing (nyse: BA – news – people ) are trying to roll out products quickly.

“This technology has been in the research lab way, way, way too long,” says Helen Greiner, chief executive of Cambridge, Mass.-based iRobot. Her company makes the Roomba, a robot vacuum cleaner, but it has also already developed two robots for the battlefield.

“This isn’t fantasy, and it’s not cartoons,” says Don Nimblett, manager of business development for unmanned systems at Lockheed. “We’ve really done this stuff.”

I believe a brigade of robotic sentries would have been quite handy in Iraq, to safeguard weapons caches and surrendered troops, left behind in the rush to Baghdad.

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