The latest advancement in the Russian robotic weapons program is like something out of a science fiction movie. Russia has recently unveiled a terminator-like robot that could join the ranks of the Russian army sooner than you think.
Vocativ’s Jennings Brown assures us that we don’t have to worry about indestructible killing machines parading through battlefields and mowing down enemy targets just yet. However, he does warn us that these androids could soon be utilized in non-lethal roles such as driving supply vehicles and transporting troops from point A to point B. This would allow real, human, soldiers to spend less time on mundane and repetitive tasks and increase the man-power of the Russian army. Allowing autonomous beings that don’t need to sleep, eat or take care of normal human functions will create a far more efficient military force and save countless man-hours.
The robots are being tested to see what tasks they will be capable of performing. The machines can be seen demonstrating some of these potential tasks in the video below. Brown warns us that the biggest danger the United States, and the rest of the world, faces is the effect these non-living beings will have on the laws of war and how battlefield operations will be carried out.
The prospect of autonomous robots and weapons joining living humans on the battlefield has caused the United Nations to consider banning all autonomous weapons for fear of the implications their existence will have on foreign relations. Many political officials fear the autonomous weapons will be used and abused and that the lack of human soldiers will make gathering information on foreign military operations extremely difficult.
Peter W. Singer, an expert on emerging military technology and senior fellow at New America think tank, believes that robot soldiers could put an end to prisoners of war and agrees that gathering intelligence will be much more difficult. He explains that replacing human soldiers with robot soldiers removes any risk of human soldiers being captured by foreign nations and interrogated for classified information. He cited a recent prisoner swap between Russia and the Ukraine to emphasize his point in a statement shared by Vocativ:
“To give a parallel, Russia recently did a trade of POWs with Ukraine. Russia had been saying, ‘We don’t have troops in Ukraine.’ But then they did a swap. That’s one of the appeals of unmanned systems. It’s why the U.S. uses drones over Pakistan.”
Despite the speculation the true effect of autonomous soldiers on the battlefield remains to be seen. The technology needed to make an autonomous function as efficiently as a human soldier is still in the distant future. However, as the video above shows, robot soldiers could be joining the military in non-combat roles sooner than we think.