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If you're like us, recent news out of Russia announcing the upcoming battlefield deployment of robotic "buddy" soldiers by the year 2025 conjures up images of gleaming chrome machines straight out of a James Cameron Terminator movie, but the the actual reality of it will likely be something far more mild and considerably less terrifying.
In news emanating out of the former Soviet Union, an administrator inside Russia's Advanced Research Foundation has revealed that actual human fighters in the infantry will be partially substituted by unmanned robotic protectors in the next few years.
As presented in an April report in Forbes, these autonomous robo-soldiers will be faster, stronger, and infinitely more accurate at tactical target selection than any trained human sharpshooter or marksman. These ambitious claims for enhancement of its military capabilities are part of Russia's ongoing attempts to roll out mobile, self-aware weapons into the theater of combat operations, regardless of mild concerns coming out of the United Nations.
"Living fighters will gradually begin to be replaced by their robotic 'brothers' who can act faster, more accurately and more selectively than people," Vitaly Davydov told Russian news agency RIA Novosti on April 21, according to Forbes' expose. Davydov acts as the deputy director of the Advanced Research Foundation, Russia's equivalent to our Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
So is the Kremlin just tossing about fanciful sci-fi notions, or are they really near to realizing units of hi-tech foot soldiers that outperform living souls in battle?
"At this point, the Ministry of Defense says that robots replacing humans saves human soldiers from danger," Samuel Bendett, a senior adviser at the Center for Naval Analyses, explained to Forbes. "Built into that statement is the assumption that a sophisticated unmanned system would be able to eventually distinguish military targets from civilian ones, avoiding unnecessary casualties."
Robotic defense machines are nothing new in Russia, as last year their Advanced Research Foundation released an impressive video showcasing its agile mini tanks that the military could utilize beside conventional infantry, as well as a squadron of next-generation quadrotor drones. Using sophisticated sensor arrays and linked computer navigation relaying data back to field command, these tanks and their accompanying overhead swarm robots are fully capable of delivering target information back to some marauding drone vehicle that can pull the trigger without prejudice if required.
While rumors abound of Russia using ground-based robots in urban combat situations as early as this year, the biggest obstacle the country will encounter prior to any substantial deployment of a multifunctional robot batallion will be the unification and focus of technology, science, and real-world threat assessment applications to ensure soldier safety.