Robots in Afghanistan: Shouldering the load for our troops?

After watching and reading numerous stories in the news about the problems the US military and its allies are having in Afghanistan, you can’t help but wonder why we aren’t spending some of our hard earned cash on upping the ante on military robotics.  In one recent firefight at a remote outpost, some estimates are that a billion dollars in ordnance were spent defending the tiny base over the course of just one battle.  Instead of risking life and limb of our soldiers, some of whom are in firefights almost every day, and many more are exposed to the constant and increasing risk of IEDs on supply routes – why don’t we have more automated systems taking over in some of these highly dangerous situations?

Imagine a remote outpost manned by humans, but surrounded by automatic turrets which can whittle down an enemy before they get close enough to harm the base itself.  Imagine a convoy of trucks driving itself over dangerous roads.  Imagine bee sized robots flying into enemy formations to mark them as targets for precision guided munitions delivered from afar.  Imagine…

This is the crux of the debate going on at the White House right now, though admittedly they probably aren’t thinking purely in terms of robots as taking over the load for humans.  Instead, the plan put forth calls for more UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), more use on precision guided munitions, and fewer overall combat troops.  To my knowledge nothing has been mentioned about robots taking over for humans.  But this discussion is at least happening in some quarters of the military.

Know of other possible applications of robots in the military?  Please share in the comments below.

I originally posted this article on as Robots To Share Load in Warfare?


~ by greathistorydotcom on October 13, 2009.

3 Responses to “Robots in Afghanistan: Shouldering the load for our troops?”

  1. And the cost of integrating and positioning robotic defense turrets in/on such outposts as described would cost what in terms of dollars? Granted, the reduction in human lives saved in such a procedure should be included in the overall cost factor.

  2. How would these Frendly Robots know who the bad guys are? We dont need more “Blue on Blue”. The resupply By Robot Trucks, now that is well in our capabilities. Anything to take the Burden off our troops should be looked at, any mundane tasks that robots could do instead of soldiers should get the go!

  3. I’m not an expert on robotics, but I believe the allied forces already use a similar system to prevent allied aircraft from bombing them – by having electronic identification on their vehicles. US forces could carry computer chips or other ID markers which prevent their robot friends from turning guns on them.

    In the near term, I’d expect things like remote turrets and such to be controlled remotely by humans, rather than any AI. After all, a remote turret sitting on a mountain pass would never be able to differentiate between a goat herder and a Taliban.

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