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Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani

Claude Salhani is the senior editor with Trend News Agency and is a journalist, author and political analyst based in Baku, specializing in the Middle…

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How Global Economies will Change Once Robots Replace Soldiers

If you thought the use of drones was a bad idea, think again. It was just the tip of the iceberg. What is to come is on a par with the most frightening science fiction stories.

It was just another ‘Story of the Day’, one of the multitude that appear daily on the BBC website, but for some reason this one caught my attention more than the rest. It has to do with robots being built for military purposes. A frightening idea and one the US military is looking into very seriously.

A Boston company specializing in robotics has developed a humanoid robot that is able to cross rough terrain and maintaining its balance on one leg even when hit from the side with considerable weight.

This is the dream of men who command armies. This is a nightmare for the rest of the world.

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Imagine an army of practically unstoppable android robots programmed to kill. To march on regardless of what is in its path. How different would the rules of war be if generals no longer had to take into consideration their own casualties?  

It changes the entire concept of war and how it is waged. The logistics would require an entirely new concept for troops deployments. Oil would cease to be a major factor in military operations. The need to transport food and medicine for the troops would change drastically. Down the road the state would no longer have to bare the long-term costs providing health care for disabled veterans.

How would that also change the economies of the planet? The possibilities are endless.

If you thought the use of drones was a bad idea, think again. This is not science fiction any longer. This is just a few years away from becoming all too real.

Darth Vader and Star Wars is just around the corner. It even has a name: Atlas. And Atlas has a four-legged companion, WildCat, also a robot who can gallop untethered at up to 16mph (26km/h).
These are the latest creation of Boston Dynamics, a US robotics company part-funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Atlas, and WildCat are part of DARPA’s Maximum Mobility and Manipulation program, reports the BBC, who cites DARPA as saying “such robots hold great promise for amplifying human effectiveness in defense operations.”

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Boston Dynamics is developing six other versions of Atlas.  Towards the end of this year Atlas will compete with other types of robots to test the ability to function under duress and walk over uneven terrain and to drive a vehicle.

WildCat for its part can bound, gallop and turn, mimicking the movements of quadruped animals. It is powered by an internal combustion engine.

While the exact use that the military plans to do with WildCat is not known, it is a step towards a high-speed ground robot that could be weaponized to hunt and kill.

Once the technology becomes available on a large scale, having a powerful army will be limited only by how many of these units a particular country can purchase, if the robots become commercialized. Or when the Chinese invent a less expensive model.

Regardless, the thought is frightening.

Claude Salhani is editor of ArabSpringNow.com and a specialist in the Middle East, terrorism and politicized Islam. He tweets @claudesalhani. His latest book, Inauguration Day, is available exclusively on line at amazon.com.

By. Claude Salhani




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Leave a comment
  • bob on October 09 2013 said:
    Yes, widespread use of robots will change aspects of warfare, just as previous introduction of other new technologies have - and as the introduction of new technology changes aspects of many other other human activities.

    Having made this rather pedestrian prediction, I was disappointed that the author apparently couldn't be bothered to provide any deeper insight. Even brief consideration would suggest that statements like "Oil would cease to be a major factor in military operations" are simply wrong - robots do not somehow miraculously violate the laws of thermodynamics, and require power sources, and oil is a good one.

    If anything, the development and deployment of human-scale robots, such as Atlas and WildCat, seems to provide finer granularity of force employment than current ships, aircraft, and land vehicles like tanks - I'd prefer to take my chances against an Atlas descendant or two over a 500 pound precision-guided munition dropped from a B-2.

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