The Idea Man

Lethal robots? Who thinks up this stuff? Graham Hawkes, that’s who

The Idea Man

Graham Hawke

Graham Hawkes is best known for his radical winged submarines that “fly” under the sea like spiraling fighter jets. But the British-born engineer is also the inventor of the military’s first robotic machine gun. He hit upon the idea after reading about a disastrous police shootout in Philadelphia in 1985. Here’s what Hawkes, 57, had to say about how he brought it to life.

PS: You developed the technology without government funding?
GH: When you have a radical idea, people´s brains don´t engage unless you actually make the thing. So I built it with my own money. I designed the system in 3D-CAD and had some local machine shops fabricate the parts-without letting them know what I was doing.

PS: How did it go?
GH: The prototype weighed 27 pounds and shot a rifle more accurately than a human could. Within three minutes, my 80-year-old father-in-law was as deadly as a 30-year-old army captain.

PS: Wow, that´s pretty impressive.
GH: It´s perfect for urban warfare. Even in the heart of a battle, you can shoot from a safe place, like a sniper. SWORDS is just one of many platforms.

PS: Any police interest?
GH: The military was the first to buy the system, so right now we´re focused on that. But I think this is the future in law enforcement. A very high percentage of police shootings are hair-trigger situations. With this equipment, the forces of good have time to think. The rules of engagement change.

PS: Any civilian uses?
GH: Absolutely none. It´s a weapon.