At the recent Eurosatory 2016 Land and Airland Defence and Security trade show, a new kind of automated weapons system was debuted. The RoBattle is, put simply, a seven-ton weaponized robotic tank that needs only some human interaction to operate. I, for one, welcome our new semi-autonomous robotic overlords. I’d like to remind them that as a trusted Nerdist personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to fill them with precious gasoline like Emilio Estevez in Maximum Overdrive.
There are definitely some mixed feelings when seeing things like the RoBattle in action. For the most part, there’s an obvious upside to keeping any and all troops away from the front lines of wars and there are, of course, larger arguments (that we go into here) to be made about the big business of warfare. However, we are a website that deals primarily in pop culture topics, so our biggest concern at the moment is whether or not this is a step closer to Skynet’s direction.
A recent Popsci.com article showcased just what the RoBattle is capable of. Its creators, defense firm Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), describe it as “the newest member of the family of unmanned ground robotic systems from IAI, is equipped with a modular “robotic kit” comprised of vehicle control, navigation, RT mapping and autonomy, sensors and mission payloads. The system can be operated autonomously in several levels and configured with wheels or tracks, to address the relevant operational needs. Operators can equip RoBattle with different payloads including manipulator arms, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) sensors and radars, and remotely controlled weapons.”
That’s clearly all fancy business talk for “Robot Overlords” because we here at Nerdist have managed to obtain exclusive footage of the RoBattle in action. Be warned that there is a fair amount of Emilio in the following clip.
Alright, apologies are in order since that was a bad joke using a clip from Stephen King‘s 1986 Maximum Overdrive. Still, thoughts like that certainly do pop into our nerd-addled minds from time to time when there’s mention of an unmanned military vehicle. Well, there’s a hierarchy involved. It goes Maximum Overdrive, Terminator, RoboCop, Christine, and the weird Johnny Cab from Total Recall.
In reality the RoBattle is pretty damn awesome when you see it in action, as it can navigate extremely tough terrain with what seems to be relative ease.
While we’d hope to stay away from the tough topic of real-life wartime use for machines like the RoBattle, its application in combat situations would ultimately keep soldiers out of harms way. Despite the potential to use this in combat, the fact that it is modular at least gives us hope that these can be used to scout and survey in places where it’s otherwise too volatile to send soldiers thus keeping them safely away from the fight as long as possible. There are also obvious scientific applications were the RoBattle be outfitted with surveillance systems and sent into dangerous areas where scientists can’t or shouldn’t go.
What are your thoughts on RoBattle? Think it needs a Green Goblin grill? Let’s discuss in the comments below!