Autonomous machine-gun toting robot patented by Samsung

Earlier this year South Korea made news by deploying two experimental sentry robots that were able to shoot at perceived threats without human intervention. A few days ago the UTSPO granted Samsung Techwin, a subsidiary of South Korean giant Samsung, a patent for an “Automatic shooting mechanism and robot“.

Samsung reminds me of Veridian Dynamics, the fictional corporation from ABC’s short-lived sitcom Better Off Ted. Veridian went to great lengths to promote themselves as a green and family friendly company, while secretly developing high-tech next-generation weaponry. Samsung Techwin’s website is covered with photos of children and friendly looking robotos.

Slight photoshopping of an image taken from Samsung Techwin’s website

The below text was taken from the patent (emphasis added) …

Intelligent robot technology is one of the next generation new technologies which will lead the 21st century’s industrial and military science technologies with the development of artificial intelligence (AI). For example, a monitoring and sentry system can be a sophisticated system employing a variety of technologies such as ultra-low brightness camera technology, image recognition technology, image processing and storing technology, voice recognition technology, servo technology, image tracking technology, and system control technology.

As the security industry grows rapidly, demands for the use of intelligent monitoring and sentry robot systems in important national facilities such as airports, harbors, and nuclear power plants have increased accordingly. Such systems can be used in military settings to provide efficient sentries during peace time, and to improve the security of soldiers during war time by performing 3D (dangerous, dirty, dull) duties that are usually performed by soldiers. Accordingly, an unmanned robot employing Al technology can efficiently reduce manpower and greatly enhance a military’s competitive power.

As can be appreciated from the above, a monitoring and sentry robot can perform an important role in the development of military strategy. Also, the use of robots can prevent or at least minimize fatigue and loss of concentration due to repetition of simple tasks performed by soldiers on sentry duty. Furthermore, the systems can have accurate tracking and instant reaction abilities, including high speed and accurate shooting capabilities.

Fig.7 from the patent application. It looks slightly humanoid to me.

Wouldn’t a CCTV camera and senor network connected to a central command center, with personnel able to analyze threats and order countermeasures, be better and cheaper than robots with potentially buggy and dangerous software? I would have thought so. In locations where threats are imminent and snap fire/no-fire decisions need to be made, it is probably worth the expense of highly trained security guards or soldiers on duty.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • WJS

    A model that looks like Arnie should be on the way soon. Japan could have accomplished this earlier, with their realistic-looking fembots.

  • subase

    Japan has a higher calling with it’s sexbot technology. The south koreans are working on the robot soldier. These would come in very handy on the north korean border.

    The robots will likely use a dual system of AI and remote control. One person, perhaps injured or unfit in some fashion would monitor a group of robots, and take control of one whenever something happens.

    There is a movie called ‘Sleep Dealer’ that envisioned a future where most of our labour would be outsourced to third world ‘remote controllers’ of labour robots. Quite likely, considering we already outsource call centers to india.

  • Royi

    Not to mention that this is probably a violation of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics..

  • Sam

    Consider their example of a nuclear power plant. If you hire somebody to sit at a monitor or sit in a guard tower and watch for 8 hours a day they’re basically going to doze off. Especially since you’d have to do that maybe once every decade in one out of a hundred nuclear power plants. This would be an application where you could have a well defined and perhaps fenced perimeter.

    Surveillance software is far from “buggy and dangerous”. The software used for CCTV monitoring today tracks individual people in a crowd, can find and track people crawling on the ground, tell the difference between animals and people and even tell whether a person is holding their hands up. The key is that it never falls asleep and never panics.

  • WJS

    Asimov’s “laws” are only laws to those who treat them as laws. Looks like the South Koreans treat it as an interesting aspect of Asimov’s science fiction books and nothing more. Perhaps Israel would deploy robotic sentries next along their security perimeters, that would surely save them the trouble of risking the lives of the already small number of Israelis.

  • Clemente

    I think this is as bad as an idea as the flesh eating errrr…Biomass powered robot DARPA is developing.
    http://www.projectorigincommunity.com/forum/showthread.php?t=9269

    Haven’t any of these people seen any of the Terminator movies or at least the now cancelled TV show?

  • iMick

    You know Samsung makes 155mm SP Guns as well. I saw one at a land warfare conference for the australian army’s land 17 project. Bit of a stretch from the tv in my living room lol.

    http://www.australiandefence.com.au/E5CE55E0-F806-11DD-8DFE0050568C22C9

  • Jerry

    I started laughing when I saw this patent, and then something hit me: S. Korea is one of the few countries where professional video game playing (yes, you read that right) is taken VERY seriously. Especially scifi war games where the player have to direct essentially a small army (200)of semi-smart AI units to wage war against each other, where more than 80 commands per minute are issued to their video game forces to perform highly complex maneuvers.

    Combine the maniac-like professional video game players of South Korea and this new robot soldier tech, we just might have something here…

    (I just woke up, this reply is not entirely serious)

  • Dakota

    I don’t trust robotic soldiers and things of that sort, it all sounds a little to Skynet-like for my taste.

    No robot or machine could match human ingenuity and guile, those things just aren’t able to be replicated on an artificial scale.

  • Aurelien

    Cyberdyne systems anyone ?

  • MarkM

    Droid Decar 1.0

    George Lucas may try to exercise intellectual property rights, eh?

  • John C

    Ummmm…. bad idea….what happens when someone spills their coffee on the control pad and the thing starts randomly shooting people? The problems that this could cause greatly outweigh the benefits in my opinion. Robots should never be given the power to make life or death decisions.

  • Pete

    Now, it’s a given that the robots are going to rise up and enslave us all. There’s nothing we can do about that. But to we need to accelerate the process by giving them machine guns?

  • Tango

    LOL @ MarkM. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he did.

    We can’t be too surprised at these developments and although some don’t take them seriously, tech is gradually taking over the battlefield. (Look at the Reaper and Predator drones.) Other examples: articles on working combat exoskeletons have been popping up all over the place for the past couple of years; BAE recently announced a “smart” tank camo system that will mirror its environment; the U.S. Navy has a real life laser gun; and these are just a few. God only knows what else is being worked on.

    The grunt in the trenches will always be the old fall-back for any military, he (and now she) is just gonna have new toys to play with.

  • subase

    Robotic weaponry is the future folks. Notice how they are trying to turn soldiers into robots with thermal/night/zoom/computer network gear? Well the other side of that coin is making machinery more independent and intelligent. The north koreans tunnels won’t save them when they cut the lights, gas the place and send their robots in there.

  • JC

    These things could prove useful in the event of a zombie apocalypse. How many rounds do they carry?

    I agree about the Japanese robot comments. Their main thrust (if you will), is to produce a sexbot.

  • A Lee

    What subase said:

    The system probably has autonomous detection and target tracking, but when it comes to actual shooting, it probably sends the video feed to a human supervisor for final confirmation.

    Here’s the beta version, similar sensor and gun arrangement. Pretty good grouping for that machine gun, given how light that platform appears to be…

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2132365054951907317#

  • SoulTown

    Well, if your only land border happens to be the most militarized stretch of land in the world, it’s only natural that something like this would come up. Actually, sentry gun technologies received a fair bit of attention in SK these days. And with the sinking of the warship and selling of civilians by the despotic North, the interest is only going to rise.

  • charles222

    Given that LFL pretty much designed the Future Warrior suit way back in 1977, don’t see why not. :p

    I’d really like to see a robot with what appears to be machine guns for hands deal with actually having to search vehicles coming through an ECP, as opposed to dealing instant bloody death on the Pakistani truck drivers that keep the ME running on a daily basis. You’ll still need people in the loop for things like that.

  • Tom

    Such things have been on cards for a long time, S. Korea is just slightly ahead of the curve.

    And as for Asimovs “law” (there is actualy 4 ) you can bet any Robot made for the military, regardless of function, will feature a fith “follow orders, and respect the chain of comman. This superseeds all other directives”.

  • Justin Grigg

    Cue Terminator Music.

  • spudfiles

    Old news surely, already produced as the SGR-A1 and clearly past the prototype stage?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GkAmpMy8liQ

    According to this article, they are being used to guard bases South Korean in Iraq: http://www.v3.co.uk/vnunet/news/2168669/samsung-shows-robot-sentry

  • spudfiles

    In terms of facility security, it’s also worth looking at the stuff made by Precision Remotes: http://www.precisionremotes.com/facility-security.php

    Not autonomous in this case, but it’s one relatively small step to integrate the hardware with auto-targeting software.

    Incidentally, making your own autonomous sentry gun is quite feasible for the amateur builder: http://www.paintballsentry.com/

  • Mountainbear

    Considering what is lurking on the South Korean border I think the move makes sense.

    Also, the Japanese fembots aren’t sexbots. Just because Mitsubishi Heavy and the rest aren’t prancing around with combat robots right now doesn’t mean they’re not working on them. The dance-bots and the android chick are merely toys.

    Just wait, they’ll eventually launch a Gundam or an EVA.

  • seeker_two

    Interesting idea…but I wouldn’t want them armed with anything but less-lethal weapons (OC paintballs, Taser shotgun rounds, rubber bullets, etc.). Leaving deadly force in the hands of an “if/then” computer program is stupid-er than zero-tolerance rules in schools.

    Leave the guns in the hands of the soldiers (and civilians)….not the robots….

  • subase

    Japan makes some of the best sex dolls in the world, which can cost up to$7000 dollars each and more, and they also have some of lowest birthrates and recently in a study, little interest in sex. Japan is trying to make robots more human (for the purposes of companionship and sex).
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_doll

    Sure Japan in the future will focus these technologies for military purposes to protect itself from China, but right now they are focusing on what everyone is thinking of. Make robot love not robot war.

  • howlingcoyote

    Terminator-rise of the machines!