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Killer robots to get silent-running whisper mode

Watch the skies. Don't listen

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Georgia-based researchers have announced plans to eliminate one of the last remaining weaknesses of the deadly robotic aerial kill flotillas now poised to end humanity's dominance over planet Earth. The airborne machine spies and automated assassins are now to receive whisper mode, and prowl the skies in eerie silence.

"With missions changing, and many vehicles flying at lower altitudes, the acoustic signature of a [killer robot] has become more and more critical," said senior Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT) "aeroacoustics specialist" Rick Gaeta.

Some robotic aircraft are already very quiet - the small battery-powered aeroplanes, often hand-launched, which are used for infantry reconnaissance and perimeter security are almost totally silent. Electric quadcopters, as favoured in some situations by the Merseyside plods and (it is rumoured) the SAS, are also unobtrusive. Such technology typically causes a stir only when employed in the form of flying genitalia.

But larger machines, able to tool up with deadly weapons and wreak havoc among their puny human opponents, are much noisier. The racket of engines, propellors and whatnot - when at low level - often warns the hapless fleshies beneath, giving them a slim chance to hide or escape.

Gaeta and his colleagues want to take away that chance. The plan is to equip the roving robotic spyeyes and gun-platforms of tomorrow with Blue Thunder-style whisper mode*. The GIT team have apparently visited unnamed "US military installations" for the purpose of examining machines already in operation.

The aeroacoustics brains believe the work is going well.

"We believe that we have the means to make tactical UAVs much quieter," says Gaeta, quietly confident (cough).

Indeed, he and his colleagues believe they will be able to make a flying war robot so quiet that not only will humans be unable to hear it - but its enhanced electronic ears will be more than able to hear them. Should a fleeing fleshy rashly step on a dry twig - or perhaps merely gasp in fear or allow his or her heart to beat too loudly - the silent aerial assassins will pounce in a trice.

These new enhancements will be available soon, apparently.

"Our next step is to put our findings into a prototype for testing," says Gaeta. There's more from GIT here.

Watch the skies, then. But don't bother listening to them; it won't do a bit of good. ®

*Or for younger readers, silent-running capabilities akin to those of the sinister governmental helicopters, sombrely paintjob'd in accordance with tradition, which hunt Mel Gibson like a rat in the tinfoilsploitation flick Conspiracy Theory.

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