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.
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.
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.