Weekly Robot Update 004
This weeks robot is a lean mean fighting machine. Crusher is the love child of Carnegie Mellon's NREC know how, and DARPA's funding. It weighs in at 6.5 tons, with a current top speed of 26mph. Crusher is completely autonomous, with six independently electric motor driven wheels, and a uniquely designed suspension. It can navigate and overcome almost any type of terrain including sheer four foot walls and embankments. Crusher's power supply is a specially designed hybrid system. A turbo diesel generator recharges a built in Lithium ion battery. It has a rugged aluminum, titanium and steel hull, and lots of room to grow.
Crusher is designed to carry up to four additional tons of payload. This could be spy gear, communications equipment, or supplies to support ground troops. But much more likely, it will consist mostly of some high grade armor, and a Really Big Gun. Crusher's autonomous AI is designed for "aggressive mobility", which I'm pretty sure is DARPA speak for "driving around and blowing things up". And there is no Army grunt with a joystick in the loop with Crusher. From NREC; "Over the next year these vehicles will analyze, plan, and execute mobility missions over extreme terrains without any human interaction at all." That's right, Crusher has been designed not only to fight, but to plan how to fight. A thinking vehicle for the thinking mans Army.
Drones on the battle field are nothing new. Global Hawks, Predators, and Hunters have flown over Afghanistan, Iraq and Kosovo for years. But none of them were designed out of the shoot for combat. Also autonomy is a whole lot easier in the air than on the ground. Flying vehicles don't need to accommodate terrain or obstacles like ground based vehicles do. They have a much wider range of sensory input from their vantage point than their ground based cousins. Making something like Crusher work is a herculean feat. Ask anyone who participated in DARPAs Grand Challange. Of course the perpetually future dwelling South Koreans have already added weaponized ground based robots to their war fighting arsenal. They've taken them to Iraq, and are considering using them along the SoKo/NoKo border. But those robots don't think like Crusher, They don't plan. They don't coordinate. That is what really stands to revolutionize warfare.
Sure a six wheeled robot with a predatory social AI, a half dozen friends and an autocannon is a pretty impressive mental picture. But what impresses me most is how a machine like Crusher can save lives. IED's are meaningless, plenty more Crushers where the last one came from. Chemical or biological weapons wont even slow the big guy down. Urban warfare, will change very quickly when one side is sniping form the rooftops and windows, and the other side is now composed of armed and armored strategising robots. All of that means less soldiers in harms way, more of our friends and family coming home safe and sound while machines like Crusher soak up the heat and give back better than they get. That's the real reward for the development of Crusher and his brethren. There but for the grace of drones go we.
Have a look at some videos of Crusher tearing around the country side. The last longest video is inclusive of all the others. If you watch the very end of it, where Crusher is climbing over that wall... I know he was built to wage war on the enemy, but watching him struggle and overcome that obstacle, he almost looks... Cute. Roll on Crusher. And lets hope they remember you when they are passing out the medals.
"The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: To build and maintain those robots." - Military School Graduation - The Simpsons.