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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Robocop: The New GI Joe?

This is the look of America's new soldier.

Yesterday, David Isaac of Investors Business Daily showed the new kind of American solider in his article titled "Talon Today Is U.S. Military's Real-Life 'Robocop'".

Foster-Miller's TALON robots, "tracked vehicles" that have been used for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), reconnaissance, communications, sensing, security, defense and rescue missions, are now capable of using "M240 or M249 machine guns or Barrett 50-caliber rifles for armed reconnaissance missions," according to the F-M website.

In other words, we now have remote controlled, armed, robot soldiers.

The use of robots is not new, according to the TALON page:

"TALON robots have been in continuous, active military service since 2000 when they were successfully used in Bosnia for the safe movement and disposal of live grenades. They were the only American-made robots successfully used at Ground Zero in search and recovery efforts after the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center and the only robots to last through the entire mission without requiring a major repair.

"TALON robots were the first robots taken into Afghanistan during action against the Taliban and Osama bin Laden in February 2002. They initially accompanied the Special Forces on a Classified mission, and are still there now doing EOD work. They were on the ground in Kuwait when coalition forces massed in 2003 and have been in Iraq ever since performing EOD/IED (improvised explosive device) missions. TALON robots have now completed more than 20,000 EOD missions in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Say hello to my little friend.

According to Isaac, the TALON's use may expand, noting that:

"The Army hopes robots like the Talon will keep soldiers out of harm's way when fighting in urban areas. In ideal conditions, a soldier operating the Talon can be more than a mile away.

"The distance also could lessen collateral damage. Soldiers feel they have to shoot first to survive in urban combat zones. Once out of range of enemy fire, soldiers can make calmer decisions, says Arnis Mangolds, vice president of Foster-Miller, the Boston-based company that makes the Talon."

Imagine this coming down your block.

If this technology works, it will be good news for American soldiers, and bad news for those trying to harm them.

The use of robot-like technology is not new of course. The Predator Drone has come into the general public's awareness after September 11th, as the 9/11 hearings noted its frequent use for the war on terror (for better and for worse).

Isaac notes that robotics will be a big part of the military's future and the National Robotics Engineering Consortium, which is part of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, could play a big part.

The IBD article brings to the forefront The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD), which is taking the lead on many of these projects.

The thought of soldier robots may be scary to some, but if America is going to become more active in urban warfare, it is a better alternative to massive casualties.

That is, if avoiding wars in the first place is not considered an alternative.

Perhaps, in the near future, American warfare will have the feel of playing a videogame, where our troops are sitting in a room guiding electronic soldiers.

I'm no soldier, or army tactician, but it does seem as far-fetched as it seems.

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