7 Military Robots That Use Cutting Edge Technology

As with any cutting-edge technology, robots have also found their way into modern militaries.

Whether it be carrying supplies or injured personnel, performing combat operations or bomb defusal, robots have always been sought after to keep the troops safe.

As recruitment fails to produce the results that militaries around the world are looking for in terms of manpower, they are looking towards unmanned robots to fill those gaps in recruitment.

Some of these robots are autonomous, while the ones that carry out combat missions directly are controlled by an operator.

These robots can easily multiply the effectiveness of the units they’re attached with thanks to the tech that they use.

This article explores some of the cutting-edge military robots that modern armed forces have already adopted or are considering to do so, and the technology that lets them be considered for deployment by the best militaries of the world.

Most military robots currently in development today, like the Centaur and the MUTT, are mainly intended to support infantry, although they still have limited combat functions.

Quite a few robots are being developed or being built upon, and this article covers the most notable among them.

What Are Different Kinds of Military Robots?

Since the requirements of the military are incredibly diverse, there are different kinds of robots that do different jobs.

Military robots may be unmanned and controlled from someplace away or autonomous, but the former is the more common variety of robots you can see in the military.

Transportation robots

Robots like the BigDog from Boston Dynamics are excellent example of transportation robots.

They act as mules to carry heavy weapons and other supplies that cannot be carried by individual soldiers, increasing that unit’s effectiveness when deployed.

Rescuing wounded soldiers in battle is another facet of transport robots because militaries want to minimize casualties, and if someone attempts a rescue of the wounded, they might get wounded themselves.

Search and Rescue Robots

Search and Rescue falls under the military, even though they aren’t involved in combat like the other branches.

Allowing robots in this space not only makes searching easier, but it can make it safer, especially if the search and rescue operation is at risk of being attacked.

Mine Clearing Robots

Mine clearing always carries a risk of injury and death, so using robots here would be a good idea to reduce the casualties that would typically occur with explosive disposal.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

UAVs or more commonly known as drones, are controlled remotely by their operators hundreds of miles away and can be used as surveillance or reconnaissance and attack targets if necessary.

Technology Behind Military Robots

Military robots are on the cutting edge of robotics technology because lives depend on them.

But most of the tech that a military robot uses can be seen in the civilian world.

For example, remote-controlled navigation is ubiquitous in civilian life, and most explosive, and mine clearing robots are controlled remotely.

UAVs and other surveillance drones are also controlled, with the operator sitting somewhere far away.

Some robots, most of which are in the concept stage, have arms that carry weapons to protect themselves or their allies.

Autonomous robots in the military are still quite a ways off because the ethics that warfare presents prevent us from giving access to powerful weapons or responsibility for the safety of people to a computer.

Some of the ones we have are equipped with RADAR and other equipment to help the bot find its way around.

Some robots also use cameras and infrared tags to recognize friend from foe.

Armed robots are also a thing, but they can only be controlled remotely and have no automated functions that allow them to use the weapon.

Centaur

Centaur from FLIR Systems was developed as an entry for the US Army’s Man Transportable Robotic System Increment 2 (MTRS Inc 2) program.

Its a tracked bot with a pan-tilt-zoom infrared and visible light camera and an extensible arm.

It can climb a 6-inch high obstacle and go up 30-degree slopes.

The terrain wouldn’t be an issue because of the tracks, but it might slow down or lose some maneuverability on hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt.

It made for defusing bombs and disposing of unexploded ordnance or ammo to minimize any potential damage to the people working on the operation.

MUTT

Multipurpose Unmanned Tactical Transport, aka MUTT developed by General Dynamics, is a tracked robot that supplements infantry units.

They are remotely operated and can be configured to carry a machine gun for fire support.

The main draw of the robot is that it leaves squads of infantry to be more mobile as most of their supplies and equipment can be carried by the MUTT.

The robot is also equipped with a laser rangefinder and can detect chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, or explosive threats with its vicinity.

The MUTT is designed to streamline how an infantry unit works and help with supporting fire if necessary.

DOGO

The DOGO is a small tracked robot meant for tactical purposes such as clearing rooms and entering areas inaccessible to regular soldiers.

It is armed with a pistol and, as a result, can only be remotely controlled.

The robot is also capable of two-way audio, which means the operator can talk with the person on the other side, which is very important in situations where military or police units might use the robot.

The weapon system also includes a less-lethal pepper spray for situations where a firearm isn’t required.

The 8 color video cameras capable of variable illumination IR allow the operator to have almost the entire picture of the situation any time he wishes to.

The DOGO is almost exclusively designed to be used in hostage rescue, negotiations and situations where you need to clear a building, but its too hazardous to send many people in.

SAFFiR

SAFFiR is a support-only robot and has no combat capabilities whatsoever, but the most exciting part of this prototype project is a humanoid.

It was designed to assist in firefighting blazes that break out within US Navy vessels and augment their fire control teams.

SAFFiR only reached the prototype stage, but the Office of Naval Research has taken what it has learned from SAFFiR and is currently being used to work on two other robots for similar roles called NADIA and DRACO.

The newer prototypes are more focused on navigating the tight spaces inside a Navy vessel and performing duties other than firefighting.

MAARS

The Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System (MAARS) is a tracked robot armed with lethal or less than lethal weapons for most tactical situations.

The robot has cameras that assist the operator in driving and acquiring targets and weighs around 370 lbs (176 kg) when fully armed.

It also has motion sensors to detect people around it and laser dazzlers and audio alarms as other non-lethal choices.

An arm can replace the weapons component of the system to increase its versatility in the field.

It can be used in various law enforcement and military operations for security, securing areas, and disposing of explosives or ammunition.

GuardBot

The GuardBot is one of the more sci-fi-looking bots in this list because it is entirely spherical.

It has two smaller spheres on the side that carry its cameras and sensors and can travel on the ground as well as swim, making the robot genuinely amphibious.

The GuardBot isn’t armed and is only intended as a surveillance or scouting tool to gather information without revealing yourself.

The military and some law enforcement departments are looking into this project because it has a lot of potential for information gathering.

The two modules on either side of the bot can be interchanged and potentially armed with laser dazzlers like the MAARS robot.

The robot is pretty silent when moving, which can help keep the element of surprise in tactical situations.

RoboBee

RoboBee is the future of swarm robotics, where hundreds of tiny robots work together for a common goal.

The RoboBee was inspired by insect colonies and their hive minds and used artificial muscles to fly.

Each robot in the swarm is about the size of an index finger and weighs less than one-tenth of a gram.

Even though RoboBee might not be the perfect choice for military operations, research into these types of robots is crucial when making robots smaller and smaller.

More miniature robots mean easier surveillance, and a swarm of these robots makes sure the guys on the ground have eyes everywhere in any situation.

The miniature size of the bots make them easy to transport and can be carried by individual squads for tactical support.

The possibilities are endless with swarm robotics, and RoboBee is one of the first steps towards that future.

Future of Military Robots

Even though the automated death machines that we see in movies like Terminator are only science fiction, the military will eventually find ways to incorporate autonomous robots into their ranks.

The question of ethics is always present, especially in warfare where lives are at stake.

Adding robots to future armies not only augments the strength of the individual unit but can expand the area of operations for the force as a whole.

Operators can send robots into high-risk areas to prevent human casualties and use them for long-range scouting, where robots can stay in the field for longer than any human.

The future looks bright, even if it could result in a potential arms race that could emerge from robotics in the military.

In the end, just like the cellphone and the internet, robots in the military would benefit the civilian market greatly.

Going Fully Autonomous

The day would soon arrive when law enforcement and the military starts using robots that have a high degree of autonomy to work in support roles for them.

While combat roles might look too far away, autonomous robots will help a lot where manual labor is required.

Support robots that can fix damaged military and police vehicles and run routine maintenance on them would free up a lot of manpower for actual police or military work.

Automated repair with the help of robots would be better in the long run as well, since purpose built robots that only repair and do maintenance can do a better job of it than a regular human.

Fixing heavy machinery like tanks and trucks are also made easier, with less crew required to be posted to maintenance units when most of the work can be done by robots.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of robots does the military use?

Almost all of the military’s robots are remotely operated and have no lethal weapons.

The exception is drones, whose weapons are still controlled by an operator.

Weapon system controls are never left to robots.

What companies are making military robots?

All of the major defense contractors are working on military robots, which include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, and General Dynamics,

What was the first military robot?

Germany used the first ‘robots’ in World War 2.

It was called the Goliath and was a small remote-controlled and tracked vehicle that carried explosives.

What are some tasks robots perform in today’s military?

Today, most military robots perform a wide range of non-combat roles like surveillance, carrying supplies and wounded personnel, and searching for mines.

Some robots are used to track and destroy missiles and defend positions from enemy attacks.