Judgment Day has come for the machines, or at least two robotic warriors once slated for the U.S. military's arsenal. The budget cut casualties include a mine-sniffing, six-wheeled transport called the MULE, and an autonomous helicopter called the Fire Scout, according to The Hill.
Flying alongside drones might seem a bit strange for U.S. Army chopper pilots, but it has major payoffs. The U.S. Army found that a mixed flight force of manned and unmanned helicopters could locate and kill 90 percent of targets, compared to manned helicopter forces that located just 70 percent of targets, according to DOD Buzz.
Charles Lindbergh may have shown human fortitude by flying across the Atlantic in his "Spirit of St. Louis," but now he has robotic company when it comes to transatlantic records. An underwater robotic glider built by Rutgers University students and scientists has achieved the first underwater robot crossing, after traveling beneath the waves for 221 days.
Drones already rule much of the skies over modern day battlefields, and could someday begin ferrying cargo to forward bases and troops. The U.S. Air Force put out a call this week for a fully autonomous unmanned air vehicle that can deliver cargo within a combat radius of 500 nautical miles.
Robot swarms could someday hover, spin, and attack in response to a simple gesture or graceful pirouette from a human operator. And yes, Boeing has filed a patent on that future vision.
"The method may involve defining a plurality of body movements of an operator that correspond to a plurality of operating commands for the unmanned object," Boeing notes in its patent filing. "Body movements of the operator may be sensed to generate the operating commands."
At the first Robotics Rodeo, hosted this week by the U.S. Army and the Fort Hood III Corps in Texas, war machines replaced bulls and horses. Soldiers and civilian contractors used the opportunity, starting on Wednesday, to inspect a lineup of robots that could potentially find a place on the battlefield.
Germany no longer wants to sit on the sidelines of the recent rush back to the moon. A German official suggested that his country could aim for an unmanned lunar landing within the next decade around 2015, and also pushed for cooperation with Europe and the United States.
Germans have so far only had a proxy taste of lunar glory through Nazi rocket scientist Wernher von Braun. The father of modern rocketry spearheaded U.S. development of the Saturn V rocket which helped land the first men on the moon.
The long-awaited robot-led holocaust may happen any day now. That seems to be the finding of a secret conference of the world's top computer scientists, roboticists, and artificial intelligence researchers. The clandestine meeting focused on topics surrounding advancements in robotics and how they could quickly spiral out of human control. This includes the danger that robots could autonomously kill humans -- a danger than conference participants believe may already exist.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.