The news is dominated by the day to day combat in Ukraine and the heart wrenching stories of the Ukrainian people. In the news coverage, many scenes are reminiscent of news reels from World War II: bombed buildings, phalanxes of tanks, artillery battles, munitions lighting up the night sky, and helmeted soldiers stalking the enemy. But this is not your grandfather’s war, and military support does not mean what it did in the 1940s.
Modern armies rely on a type of equipment not evident from images on the nightly news: robotics. Whether in the form of ground vehicles or aerial drones, such systems can save lives and advance military operations by providing surveillance, assisting in rescue operations, moving supplies, and undertaking combat functions in situations that would be deadly for human beings. (These are 13 of the world’s top military drones.)
Military robots can be semi-autonomous or remote controlled, drones being the most well-known and heavily used in the fight for Ukraine. More controversial are autonomous robots, sometimes referred to as killer robots, that depend on artificial intelligence to take action on their own. Last year, international efforts to curb their use through the U.N.’s Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons was thwarted by both the United States and Russia.
Russia has been accused of using drones in Ukraine that are essentially missiles capable of identifying and destroying targets on their own, possibly using face recognition software. The United States may also be sending killer drones to Ukraine, according to congressional sources. History will reveal how much of a role robots are playing in Ukraine, but it is clear that military combat has been changed dramatically by robotics and technology in general. This is the country with the most military satellites.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed a myriad of sources, including from Digital Trends, Just Total Tech, and Analytics Insight, to find 20 military robots in the world today. We aimed to select known, deployed (or being tested by the military) ground robots, mainly uncrewed ground vehicles. The list is by no means exhaustive and does not include robots such as General Dynamics’ Atlas that are still in development. We tried to include different kinds of UGVs, from combat UGVs to those employed for explosive-ordnance disposal, patrol, or supply robots.
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