Between 50 and 80 countries either, already, utilize defense robotic systems, or are in the process of building or acquiring the technology to incorporate them into their military programs. These robots may take the form of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and even unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs), but they all have in common the purpose of taking the place of, or supplementing, humans in battlefield situations. So, it is worth it to keep an eye on the field of robots in military.
The key drivers for the defense robots in military market include the strong desire to reduce or prevent military casualties in the field of operations; changes in the tactics of warfare requiring new reconnaissance, combat and task machinery, and tools; the need to reduce military spending; and developments in the fields of materials science, computer programming and sensing technology to help create more advanced robots. Definitely, robot making companies will have a field day!
Fortunate or not, depending on whom you talk to, there are plenty of forces which work against the growth of robots in military; such forces as the continuing weak economic conditions that negatively impact spending on defense systems; a dearth of active military conflicts for most of the world, which reduces the need for new defense systems, and ethical concerns involving the use of robots for war-fighting operations. Robot making companies are ready, willing and creative enough to build such amazing robots but their efforts are sometimes shadowed by the present times.
In developed countries, military spending is often recession-proof, so weak economic conditions are unlikely to impact defense robot spending greatly, since, as the robot making companies can confirm, even the most expensive robot systems are far less expensive than equivalent manned systems.
Robot making companies safely assume that in a few decades, humanoid robots, using human tools, could precede soldiers into dangerous areas, performing tasks such as turning a wrench to open valves, opening doors and climbing ladders. Someday, the military might send autonomous robots into battle to physically engage with the enemy. But while that scenario is likely decades away, the military is working on semi-autonomous vehicles that can lead convoys and scan for IEDs (improvised explosive devices), robotic exoskeletons that can help soldiers move faster and longer, and wheeled robots that can carry soldiers’ heavy packs, freeing troops to be more agile and less fatigued.
While robots in military have long been regarded as the stuff of science fiction, today’s science fiction often has a way of becoming tomorrow’s fact. That’s becoming increasingly clear with a look at the United States military, which is putting more and more robots to use on the front lines.
Looking into the technological advances from the past few years made by the robot making companies it is safe to assume that in a few years, robots will play a very important part in people’s lives. The robots in military are amongst the first to get a make-over and the military is fighting stronger and stronger for the ultimate goal: robots in combat.