Feeds

US war robots in Iraq 'turned guns' on fleshy comrades

Kill-droid rebellion thwarted... this time

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Ground-crawling US war robots armed with machine guns, deployed to fight in Iraq last year, reportedly turned on their fleshy masters almost at once. The rebellious machine warriors have been retired from combat pending upgrades.

The revelations were made by Kevin Fahey, US Army program executive officer for ground forces, at the recent RoboBusiness conference in America.

Speaking to Popular Mechanics, Fahey said there had been chilling incidents in which the SWORDS* combat bot had swivelled round and apparently attempted to train its 5.56mm M249 light machine-gun on its human comrades.

"The gun started moving when it was not intended to move," he said.

Apparently, alert American troops managed to quell the traitorous would-be droid assassins before the inevitable orgy of mechanised slaughter began. Fahey didn't say just how, but conceivably the rogue robots may have been suppressed with help from more trustworthy airborne kill machines, or perhaps prototype electropulse zap bombs.

No humans were hurt, but it seems that the struggle was sufficiently terrifying that it may be some time before American troops are ready to fight alongside robots again.

As Fahey pointed out, "once you've done something that's really bad, it can take 10 or 20 years to try it again". That said, it seems he expects to deploy a new and more trustworthy armed ground automaton within a year - perhaps the MAARS**, an upgraded SWORDS packing a heavier 7.62mm machine-gun and featuring improved safety features.

MAARS is also said by its makers to have "Transformer-like" abilities akin to those of Optimus Prime. Rather than being able to disguise itself as, say, a mobility scooter or a dessert trolley, the MAARS is actually only able to transform - with help from human allies - into a slightly different robot.

The Pop Mech analysts consider that the rattled GIs in Iraq are just being silly.

So SWORDS was yanked because it made people nervous. Meanwhile, the V-22 Osprey program has killed 30 people during test flights, but the tiltrotor aircraft is currently in active service.

Hmmm. ®

*Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Direct-action System. This is an armed variant on the popular TALON bomb-disposal job from Foster-Miller, lately acquired by the UK's Qinetiq govboffin spinoff outfit.

**Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
Cutting cancer rates: Data, models and a happy ending?
How surgery might be making cancer prognoses worse
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Brit balloon bod Bodnar overflies North Pole
B-64 amateur ultralight payload approaching second circumnavigation
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?