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The Rise of the Semi-Autonomous Robotic Fighting Machine

Interestingly, as reported by The National Interest Blog, Robots will team with other robots on the battlefield.  “While the Army is planning on creating heavier, faster, and more heavily armed and armored M2A4 and M2A5 models of the Bradley, it is also set to begin a competition late in 2019 for an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, (or Next Generation Combat Vehicle) to succeed it. …The new robotic combat vehicles may themselves deploy their own small flying drones to scout ahead for enemy forces.”

Semi-autonomous vehicles can be remote controlled by a human operator but also programmed to perform particular tasks autonomously. Letting such machines operate lethal weapons independent of human oversight has always been a red line for those debating the ethics of war, as mobile “robotic” weapons that have the ability to search and destroy on their own are considered to be a different kind of weapons system than traditional arms.  As the cliché goes, nobody wants to unleash the first “Terminator”.  The debate may get more complicated for some when one considers fire-and-forget smart bombs. In any case, the rise of semi-autonomous fighting machines is well underway.

Thanks to CDR David Place (USN/Ret), davidplace47[at]gmail[dot]com, and Robin E. Alexander, President ATC, alexander technical[at]gmail[dot]com, for their assistance with this report.