Robots Changing Rules of Command

Command of military forces has changed and robots are the reason.  Robots are creating the next battlefield.  The use of robots has caused two major events to occur in war-fighting.  First, robots have given the soldier in the field unprecedented power.  Corporals have control of robots with great destructive capability and the ability to make the decision to use that force in an instant.  Second, generals in command centers far from the site of the battle can micromanage the tactics of units because of their ability to use drone robots to observe, and therefore direct, small units directly.  In some cases, according to this article from the Brookings Institute, generals have been known to order a single soldier to change positions.

Robots are incredible force multipliers on the battlefield.  How will the military learn to deal with this?  More importantly, how will the government of the United States redesign the military command structure to adapt to the use of robots?

Military Robot 

Photo Credit: and iRobot

The Rise of the Tactical General
Brookings Institution, DC
Forty-two other countries have military robotics programs, as well as a host of nonstate actors. But like any major change in war, the robot revolution is not turning out to be the frictionless triumph of technology that some would describe it.

The Rise of the Tactical General – Brookings Institution
Tue, 16 Jun 2009 15:55:47 GMT

Flying Insect-sized Robots Get Eyes

So I guess this fits with the theme of recent posts on RobotNext.  Only this one combines the themes of military robots and nature inspired machines.  This article on spying roboflies is about tiny cameras that can be integrated with flying robots that are no larger than an insect.  Of course, there are many other possible applications for this miniature camera.  One of the uses could be for robotic spacecraft where size and weight are critical.  Another area where these devices could make an impact is in small observatories for use in border security.  It is thought that the robots or machines with these cameras would be cheap enough to be dropped by aircraft over a large area.  See the complete article by clicking on the title below.

It is light enough to be carried by these tiny surveillance drones and also uses very little power.

Spying roboflies to get minicam eyes
Fri, 22 May 2009 20:59:44 GMT

Band of Brothers and Bots?

Military personnel become so attached to their fighting robots that they actually give them names and mourn their loss.  This phenomenon is documented in the article at  I have written several posts about military robots in RobotNext that may have a dark side, but there is no doubt that they save lives and that the soldiers that fight along side them develop close ties with the machines. In one case, even an inspired father sought to develop a robot in honor of his son.

Real soldiers love their robot brethren
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Real soldiers love their robot brethren –
Thu, 21 May 2009 16:25:40 GMT

iRobot Ember Ushers in Era of Military Microbots

Check out the following article from Robot Stock News on a new small and potentially disposable robot for use by the military.  This continues the development of military robots that will be partners with soldiers on the battlefield.  An excerpt from the article follows below and there is a link to the full article at the bottom of the page.

iRobot Corp. has developed a new microbot for military applications — the paperback-sized iRobot Ember!  This hot new bot, still in the prototype stage, is featured on iRobot's new Facebook page for its PackBot family. As you can tell from the photos iRobot posted on the page, Ember resembles a miniaturized PackBot, complete with iRobot's flipper technology allowing it to right itself and climb over obstacles.

The iRobot Ember was developed under DARPA's LANdroids program, which is intended to create teams of tiny robots for military applications, including, as the name implies, setting up an ad-hoc network of hotspots. The robots are intended to be about 1 pound each, be smart enough to detect and navigate around obstacles and ultimately cheap enough to be considered disposable.

 iRobot Ember Ushers in Era of Military Microbots
thorn_stevens (
Sun, 17 May 2009 11:36:00 GMT

Inspired by Soldier Son, Father Develops Military Robots

A robot is a machine.  It can be programmed to accomplish many tasks.  These tasks can be for good or evil.  Several previous posts here have detailed military-tasked robots.  Now, you can think what you want about these robots, but they do have one major purpose—to save human lives. 

Here is an inspirational story of someone who is motivated to do something to save soldiers on the battlefield.


Inspired by Soldier Son, Father Develops Military Robots
TOM BEARDEN: Black-I Robotics, with just two employees besides Hart, are building robots that can defuse IEDs. They can also use TV cameras and other sensors to act as sentries, warning troops of imminent danger. Military weapons designer Pierre Sprey

Inspired by Soldier Son, Father Develops Military Robots – NewsHour
Fri, 15 May 2009 15:11:15 GMT

Robots Can Have Many Applications Besides Military

The Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Satellite Center at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel will be established by a $5 million donation.  Arnold Goldstein, a New York businessman and philanthropist, is providing the funding.  Although robotics can have a military application, he sees the medical and humanitarian purposes also.

Robots To Help Humans
The Jewish Week,  USA
Goldstein said the center would be working with robots that could be used for warfare as well as for medical and humanitarian purposes. “They have a snake-like robot that can go into rubble looking for earthquake victims,” he said.

Robots To Help Humans – The Jewish Week
Wed, 13 May 2009 05:12:04 GMT

New Robot With Artificial Skin To Improve Human Communication

So, in light of robots that can jump and robots that can kill, where does a robot that can feel fit in?  Doesn’t this make you think about the possibility of killer robots with the sense of touch?  Of course, this roboskin robot is being developed for a noble purpose, but technology does not know good from evil.  I have always believed in technology as a way for humanity to improve itself and I don’t think all the articles on the military applications of robots will change my mind about that.  However, it does make you think!

Work is beginning on a robot with artificial skin to be used to investigate how robots can help children with autism learn about social interaction.  Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and her team at the University’s School of Computer Science are part of a European consortium, which is working on the three-year Roboskin project to develop a robot with skin and embedded tactile sensors.

The researchers will work on Kaspar (, a child-sized humanoid robot developed by the Adaptive Systems research group at the University.


New Robot With Artificial Skin To Improve Human Communication
Sun, 10 May 2009 03:00:00 GMT