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Army Deploys Armed Robots in Iraq


The U.S. government is continuing its march towards an all-robot army. The Predator drones, featured heavily in the Afghani campaign, strapped with missiles was just the beginning. The next step are the Special Weapons Observation Remote reconnaissance Direct action Systems, or "SWORDS" robots.

SWORDS are modified bomb disposal robots mounted with M249 light machine guns. The robots were originally declared combat-ready in 2004, but the bomb-disposal robots had this tendency to occasionally spin out of control. Annoying when defusing a bomb, possibly tragic when firing a machine gun.

New safety measures were put in place to prevent the robots from losing control or accidentally firing, and unlocking the weapon is a three-step process of both software and physical safeties.

There are currently three SWORDS roaming Iraq, though the Army will not reveal where. They have yet to fire their weapons, but once they do the SWORDS program manager expects the Army to order more.

As these technological advancements remove more soldiers from harm's way it becomes important to ask: Is removing the human element from war ultimately a good thing? Will removing soldiers from the battlefield make war even less civilized? What will deter countries from fighting if all they stand to lose is some very expensive pieces of technology?

From Engadget and Wired

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Tags: army, combat, government, iraq, robot, swords

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