Countries like US, Russia and china are racing to deploy combat robots and drones on the battlefield and are investing in their research and development to have a military edge over other countries. Various militaries are fielding unmanned systems for surveillance, intelligence, logistics, or attack missions to make their forces or campaigns more effective. China has developed a large range armed and combat UAVs. It is also challenging US in development of AI and employing them in developing autonomous weapons including missiles. A top British intelligence expert had claimed that the US military will have more robot soldiers on the battlefield than real ones by 2025, suggesting that deadly combat robots are rapidly becoming a reality of modern day warfare.
Robotics is a top priority for Russia’s military future, given the length of the Russian border and the need for military operations in places unsuitable for humans, like the Arctic. Recently, the chief of the General staff of the Russian armed forces, General Gerasimov, stated that Russia seeks to completely automate the battle, and perhaps soon we will witness robotic groups independently conducting warfare.
According to Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, the robots will save lives: “We have to conduct battles without any contact, so that our boys do not die, and for that it is necessary to use war robots,” he said. Putin while talking to students envisioned a future for war where drones, ostensibly controlled by artificial intelligence, would fight proxy wars between countries. “When one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender,” he said.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced about the implementation of serial production of combat robots for the army. “We have started creating combat robots and their state and field trials are nearing completion. I hope that already this year (2018) we will start serial production,” the defense minister said. Russia has also completed work on developing robotic vehicles for area mine clearance, Shoigu said. “Today such robots are already serial-produced. We do not stop the work for any single day, for any single hour,” the Russian defense minister stressed.
In May 2018, the Russian military revealed it had combat-tested its Uran-9 robot tank in Syria. The diminutive remote-control tank is noted for its formidable gun and missile armament. However, robots being developed at present are not ready for combat roles. Defense Blog reported that Senior Research Officer Andrei Anisimov told a conference at the Kuznetsov Naval Academy in St. Petersburg that the Uran-9’s performance in Syria revealed that “modern Russian combat Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGVs) are not able to perform the assigned tasks in the classical types of combat operations.” He concluded it would be ten to fifteen more years before UGVs were ready for such complex tasks.
“I see a greater robotisation, in fact, future warfare will involve operators and machines, not soldiers shooting at each other on the battlefield,” Lieutenant-General Andrey Grigoriev, head of the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF) had said last year. “The soldier would gradually turn into an operator and be removed from the battlefield.”
In response rapid development of killer drones by Russia and China, Pentagon officials have planned to develop and deploy Automated killer machines in US military within ten years. U.S. Army planning for its Bradley fighting vehicle replacement to be “optionally-manned.”
A report from the Defence Science Board in the US concluded that there are both benefits and dire negatives in using cyborgs to fight their battles, but the country needs to act quickly if it does not want to be left behind any further. The report said “there are both substantial operational benefits and potential perils associated with its use.” Robots on the battlefield will be more efficient, result in less casualties and could ultimately be cheaper. The Pentagon justifies its development with the statement that Russia and China allegedly also design ‘fast-moving, fully-autonomous killing systems’. Thus, the US will make robots ‘not to use them’, but to know how they work and how to counter them.
Russian Future army to contain 30% Robots
“The Defense Ministry approved the concept of combat use of robotic systems and complexes of various types and purposes for the next 10 years, until 2025,” – said O.Martyanov, who directs the interdepartmental working group on the development and application of robots. According to the document, the expert said, the proportion of robotic agents in the overall structure of arms and military equipment (AME) should be about 30%.
Russia is in fact testing many unmanned ground vehicles, from small devices to tank-sized models equipped with a variety of ammunition. Going into 2018 and beyond, the Russian military will start acquiring more unmanned military systems for its air, land and naval forces.
Russia is rolling out a wide array of innovative robotic machines to optimize the performance of its armed forces. “Advanced robotic systems of a new generation designed for military application are tested within the framework of development work. A number of them will be delivered to the army in 2016,” Col. Gen. Pavel Popov said in an interview with Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper.
Russia has developed a killer robot which can detect a human from over four miles away – and shoot them dead – could be employed at the Russian border. It would be employed predominantly to detect low flying drones and other vehicles attempting to cross the border. It will be able to monitor the location of drones, find information about their origin and even track the arc of their movement through the sky, before sending all information to an operating base. Russian engineers claim it could be used to pick out targets for long-range explosive weaponry.
The ‘Flight’ robot will be armed with state-of-the-art surveillance tools such as radar, thermal imaging and both colour and black and white video cameras. Chief project engineer Dmitry Perminov said: “In its structure there is a radar unit that detects a target: human – to about 7km distance, the car – up to 10km. “After detection, the target is in engaged using an optical system.”
Weapons experts have also been working on a high-tech explosives system to work in tandem with the Flight surveillance robots. A remote-controlled grenade launcher known as the ‘Alpha Device’ has been developed by Russians engineers, with an impressive firing range of almost 400m. A single control-room operator can command as many as 16 of the launchers at a time.
On Nov. 1, Viktor Bondarev, chairman of the Federation Council’s Defense and Security Committee, stated indicated that Russia is pursuing “swarm” technology — also pursued by the U.S. military — which would allow a network of drones to operate as a single unit. “Flying robots will be able to act in a formation rather than separately,” Bondarev said. “Perhaps, an operator will be sitting on the ground and controlling a whole unmanned squadron with the help of a computer … the day is nearing when vehicles will get artificial intelligence. So, why not entrust aviation or air defense to them?”
Russian Ministry of Defense (MOD) has established several centers such as Main Research and Testing Center of Robotics, tasked with working alongside the defense-industrial sector to create unmanned military technology standards and better communicate warfighters’ needs. The MOD is also running conferences such as the annual “Robotization of the Armed Forces” that bring together military and industry decision-makers for a better dialogue on the development, growth, and evolution of the nation’s unmanned military systems.
Russia employment of combat robots in Syrian War
The Russian Army reportedly procured twenty-two Uran-9s in 2016 from the JSC 766 UPTK company. The robo-tanks are apparently attached to support infantry and engineer units by engaging in reconnaissance and fire support missions, rather than being concentrated in independent maneuver formations. The Uran-9 is also being offered for export by the state-owned Rostec Corporation, and was photographed being inspected by General Min Aung Hlaing, commander of Myanmar’s armed forces.
Russia announced that it had deployed its Uran-9 robotic tank to Syria, according to Sputnik, a Russian state-owned media outlet. “Uran-6” demining robot, made by JSC 766 UPTK, has been assisting Russian sappers in Syria, helping clear recaptured areas from mines, IEDs and unexploded ordinance. Designed to operate in extreme environment, this UGV is the first successful battlefield deployment and has been operating in Syria for almost a year at this point. Russia used this hi-tech ‘robot solider’ to clear the historic World Heritage site of Palmyra of explosives after the area was liberated from Islamic State rule. Almost 3,000 explosive devices including mines were defused by the massive demining machines known as Uran-6 robots used by Russia’s military. Up to 2.3 square kilometres in the area were cleared of mines which were left by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants after they were defeated. Palmyra was recently recaptured by the Syrian government from Islamic State.
Earlier Russia claimed to have carried out for first time in the world, an attack on a fortified area of militants by battle robots. In the province of Latakia, army units of the Syrian army, with the support of Russian specialists and Russian combat robots, took the strategic tower of “Syriatel”, 754m in height. In the attack on the tower, six robotic complex “Platform-M” and four complex “Argo” were used. A friendly robot was recently deployed to Syria featuring self-propelled artillery installations (SAU) “acacia” that can destroy enemy positions.
Military robots, guns and drones were linked to the automated C4I2 (command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, and information) system “Andromeda-D”. With this software, the system can directly command, combat units operating branches form a complex with the involvement of modern weapons. The commander of the attack on the tower, in real time, was directing operations, while in Moscow, operators of military robots led the attack, each seeing the field of battle, and the whole picture.
RUSSIA built a Robot that can shoot guns and travel to Space
A Russian technology company and military research agency have teamed up to create a firearm-wielding robot that they plan on sending to space. The futuristic sharpshooter named FEDOR (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) was initially designed by Russian firm Android Technics and the government’s Advanced Research Fund for search and rescue missions. The project was commissioned by the Russian government as its first domestically produced anthropomorphic robot.
“FEDOR was designed as an android able to replace humans in high-risk areas, such as rescue operations. For this purpose, it was necessary to teach him to work independently in an urban environment, navigate the terrain, drive a car, to handle special tools, first aid and other actions,” Andrey Grigoriev, director of Russia’s Advanced Research Fund, told Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti last week.
Soratnik & Nerekhta military robots being inducted
The Russian military announced on Oct. 30, 2017 that it will begin acquiring the Nerekhta — a ground-combat robot armed with a slew of remotely-operated weapons such as machine guns and rocket launchers. Col. Oleg Pomazuev, the head of the Russian Ministry of Defense’s Department of Innovation Research, said the Nerekhtas “managed to prove themselves well at the Alabino testing ground,” and that the robots exceeded manned combat vehicles “in a number of parameters.”
The spartan-looking, mid-sized Nerekhta comes in three varieties — combat, transport and artillery reconnaissance – and can be equipped with a 12.7-millimeter or 7.62-millimeter machine gun, as well as a 30-millimeter AG-30M automatic grenade launcher. The Nerekhta military robot is built around a light armored rubber-track platform armed with an explosives-packed container.It is over one meter long and weighs 300 kg. The robot can haul hundreds of kilos of high explosives at 11 km/h in a silent mode.
Russian MOD also tested Soratnik military robots indicating increasing interest in using such systems for combat. Soratnik (comrade in English) is a 7-tonne robot tank developed to support infantry in action, as well as for patrolling and guarding an area. It has a road speed of 40 km/h and can be operated remotely at a range of up to 9.6 km. It can also operate independently with varying degrees of autonomy. The tracked chassis robot can be fitted with light firearms. In its basic version, it has an AK-74M assault rifle and a Dragunov sniper rifle.
Russia Unveils Kamikaze Robotic Tank
Russian army scouts and Special Ops troops will soon add to their arsenal a unique kamikaze robot capable of destroying enemy tanks and fortifications by getting close to them and blowing itself up, Izvestia wrote. “The Nerekhta system has been put on the list of future fighting robots currently being mulled for use by the Russian Armed Forces, a Defense Ministry official told the newspaper. “If the combat platform passes the tests, it will enter service with our army scouts and Special Ops troops.”
The Nerekhta is built around a light armored rubber-track platform and looks like a miniature tank where the turret is replaced with an explosives-packed container. Weighing 300 kilograms and just over one meter long, the Nerekhta can haul hundreds of kilograms of high explosives at 11 km/h in a silent mode.
Before it goes into combat a map of the the battlefield with the coordinates of the designated targets is downloaded to its onboard computer. All its operators need to do is just push a button clicking the number of the downloaded targets and leave the rest to this powerful tank. Receiving the radio command, the Nerekhta will plot its course to the target, approach it and blow it up.
“A robotic arm will eventually be added on to make the Nerekhta reusable. It will unload the explosive charge and return to base. We also want to make it move faster,” the Degtyarev Plant’s deputy chief designer Dmitry Fufayev told Izvestia.
Nerekhta-2 will be equipped with a new type of ammunition and will be capable of tackling enemies larger and stronger than itself, according to Igor Denisov Deputy Director General for Advanced Research. “We have chosen the Nerekhta platform as the most suitable for making a number of changes, this is a ‘lab’ for testing the most promising solutions for ground robots supporting combat operations, including in the city.
According to the deputy chief, the Nerekhta-2 combat robot will be part of Russia’s future soldier equipment. “The invisible part of the Nerekhta — its control system — is important as well. We are considering it as part of the ‘future soldier’ combat equipment. It is impossible to constantly improve the capabilities of a human being and putting on more armor, that way we will turn him into a walking tank. The fighter needs to have a personal assistant, a weapon carrier,” Denisov told Sputnik.
Platform-M, the universal combat platform
The Izhevsk enterprise “NITI “Progress”” have created a remote-controlled robotic complex called “Platform-M” on a tracked chassis.
Platform-M is a universal combat platform. It is used for gathering intelligence, for discovering and eliminating stationary and mobile targets, for firepower support, for patrolling and for guarding important sites. Also, it can ensure passage through a minefield. Work on the system was carried out for several years. Now mass production has started.
Russia’s armed forces have conducted war games with the participation of new Platform-M combat robots. The robot is armed with the famous Kalashnikov rifle made in Izhevsk and four grenade launchers. The unit’s weapons can be guided, it can carry out supportive tasks and it can destroy targets in automatic or semiautomatic mode and fitted with optical-electronic and radio reconnaissance locators.
Amphibious Vehicle Argo
Central research and experimental design Institute of robotics and technical Cybernetics has developed a Jeep-size amphibious vehicle called Argo that can cross a lake and fire at targets. “Argo” is designed to conduct reconnaissance and offer support fire for landings. The weapons system was created for the destruction of equipment and manpower. In addition, the ATV can be used for delivery. “Argo” weighs about 1 ton.
The machine’s length is 3.4 m, width — 1,85 m, height — 1,65 m. On the ground it has a top speed of 20 km/h, on water — 4.6 km/h. “Argo” may to work more than 20 hours continuously. The combat robotic system is armed with a 7.62-mm tank machine gun, three grenades RPG-26, grenade launchers two RShG-2.
The Uran-6 is a multipurpose demining robot, powerful enough to replace 20 sappers. It can be remotely operated from a safe distance of about one kilometer. “Armed” with bulldozer blades and trawls, the Uran-6 detects, identifies and destroys mines containing up to 60 kilograms of TNT. Its companion, the Uran-14, is an obstacle-breeching and fire-fighting robot.
The armored Uran-9 is designed for combat operations – weighing in at 10 tons, it is armed with a 30 mmm cannon, 7.62mm machine gun and anti-tank rockets. It is a tracked unmanned combat ground vehicle (UCGV) being developed and produced by Rostec for the international market. According to a release by Rosoboronexport, the system will be designed to deliver combined combat, reconnaissance and counter-terrorism units with remote reconnaissance and fire support.
The Uran-9 is controlled from an operator in a mobile vehicle (no more than 1.8 miles away) who can either manually control it or set it on a pre-programmed path. t’s also equipped with a variety of sensors, laser warning systems, thermal and electro-optic cameras. It’s armed with four 9M120-1 Ataka anti-tank guided missile launchers, six 93 millimeter-caliber rocket-propelled Shmel-M reactive flamethrowers, one 30-millimeter 2A72 automatic cannon and one 7.62-millimeter coaxial machine gun.
7-ton universal armored crawling robotic system
“The URP-01G robotic platform is a universal armored vehicle designed to work in locations that represent a serious threat to people’s lives. It can be used during military action, reconnaissance, emergency situations, rescue operations and demining,” said United Instrument-Making Corporation Deputy CEO Sergey Skokov, as reported by Sputnik News in May.
It will be capable of being used in all kinds of “human-unfriendly” environments, which include battlefield and nuclear fallout places, as well as extreme polar night Arctic conditions and mine sweeping areas.
Called the URP-01G, the device contains dimensions of about 3.5 meters long and less than 2 meters wide, reported Russia Today. The robot will carry up to two tons of hardware with a maximum speed of 40 kilometers an hour.
Russia’s Systemprom Concern developed the system as part of the United Instrument Manufacturing Corporation, RT also reported.
Russia’s military robot design lab, aka the “mobile robotic complex”, has gone into operation, and is developing variety of combat robots called MRKs, for Mobile Robotic Complex.
The MRK-002-BG-57, nicknamed Wolf-2, is basically a tank, of the size of a small car with a 12.7-mm heavy machine gun. In its automated mode, the operator can remotely select up to 10 targets, which the robot then bombards. Wolf-2 can act on its own to some degree, but the decision to use lethal force is ultimately under human control.
Security Robot Taifun-M for security of Strategic Missile facilities
The security robot Taifun-M, designed to provide security at strategic missile facilities, The combat robots, which have no foreign analogue, will be used to secure RS-24 Yars and SS-27 Topol-M missile sites and can be operated remotely by a secure wireless connection and in the future with an autonomous artificial intelligence system, the program reported Monday.
It weighs around 900 kilograms (nearly 2000 lb.) and has cameras, a laser rangefinder and radar sensors. For fire power it has a 12.7-millimetre heavy machine gun, with optional smaller weapons. It is quick too, hitting speeds of 45 kilometres per hour on a petrol engine. It can operate for 10 hours, or switch to sleep mode for a week.
In a recent interview, Dmitry Rogozin—Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister (and the man in charge of their defense industry)—talked about projects in development that “include a remote controlled android with driving and shooting skills” and a system capable of “delivering strikes on its own.”
Ethics and Legal issues
“The prospect of states developing autonomous weapons systems that would identify targets on their own and attack them is a grave concern for humanity,” according to Thomas Nas.
Andrew Smith of “Campaign against Arms Trade” told RT: “The development of killer robots is very concerning. A comprehensive, pre-emptive prohibition on these weapons is urgently needed. Weaponry without meaningful human control is the ultimate expression of militarism and risks decisions about life and death being made by machines.”
“No accountability means no deterrence of future crimes, no retribution for victims, no social condemnation of the responsible party,” said Bonnie Docherty, senior Arms Division researcher at Human Rights Watch and the report’s lead author. “The many obstacles to justice for potential victims show why we urgently need to ban fully autonomous weapons.”
However Robot expert Professor Ron Arkin has presented the other view, He says using robots in war could save soldiers’ lives and reduce the number of civilian casualties. “Robots could do better than humans as war fighters because they provide better sensors, such as seeing through walls.
“They have an absence of self-preservation emotions. They have an ability to recompute scenarios in the light of fresh data and most importantly they can have a complete focus on the strictures of military duty and the rule of international humanitarian law.”