The sci-fi dream (or nightmare, depending on which side you're on) of robotic soldiers may soon become a reality. While the U.S. military already uses remotely-controlled, weaponized aircrafts (known as drones), the new technology would be the first Terminator-style soldier.
The new robots were recently debuted at Fort Benning in an event called the “Robotic Rodeo,” Wired reports. Four different robotics companies, HDT Robotics, iRobot, Northrop Grumman and QinetiQ were present at the event, in which the robots went through a live demo.
The Army’s Lt. Col. Willie Smith insisted that the military has no plans to completely replace its foot soldiers with robots. “They’re not just tools, but members of the squad. That’s the goal. A robot becoming a member of the squad, we see that as a matter of training,” Smith told Computerworld.
Other Army officials speculated that the robots may see action within the next five years.
Although the idea of a robotic soldier might bring to mind human-like figures, the robots tested by the companies actually look more akin to the Curiosity rovers currently surveying Mars. They’re on wheels, with a variety of technology attached, including an M240 machine gun. Although the robots don’t necessarily look intimidating, they’re still powerful. Those weapons were able to accurately hit targets up to 500 feet away.
Smith insisted that this is the best the Army’s attempts at building robotic solders have come in recent history. “We were pleased with what we saw here. The technology is getting to be where it needs to be,” Smith said.