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Israelis produce miniature Terminator

Pint sized robo-assassin talks the talk, can't walk the walk

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Israeli killer-robot maker Elbit Systems today unveiled the "Viper," a small ground-crawling combat machine "roughly the size of a small television".

The tiny war-bot is said to capable of engaging enemies with bursts of laser-sighted automatic fire, or even grenades.

In what can only be a remarkable, chilling coincidence the dwarvish cyber-assassin reportedly packs an Uzi nine-millimetre – one of the favourite weapons of the original, supposedly fictional Terminator.

But the diminutive droid may not be ready to step into the CyberDyne 101's leather pants quite yet. It is actually intended mainly for bomb-disposal type missions, using a disruptor rather than a submachine gun. The idea is that it might be sent in ahead of Israeli foot-soldiers to recce dangerous or booby-trapped areas or buildings. It would mostly operate undisguised under remote control rather than undercover, cloaked in a sheath of living flesh. (Presumably that of a medium-sized dog in this case, rather than that of a vast Austrian.)

And indeed a measly 9mm Uzi is scarcely going to impress the other killer droids. In former times the UK's "Wheelbarrow" bomb-disposal bot would often pack a Browning 12-bore semi-automatic, somewhat outgunning the new kid on the block. And anything along these lines pales into insignificance alongside today's Flying-HK lookalike, the General Atomics MQ-9 "Reaper" with its 14 Hellfire missiles.

One also notes that the Viper isn't yet really independent of human support. It has to be carried into battle on a soldier's back. Whether the bearer should be seen as the directing intelligence or merely the machine's fleshy slave is for history to judge. ®

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