Remote-Controlled Military Robots May Serve on Battlefields of the Future

Published by , August 17, 2015 11:10 am

(TheDiplomat) — Trends in robotic warfare may gradually transform combat, including infantry, into remote controlled, or even remotely monitored, encounters. Soldiers and their robots will be in different places, allowing the former to operate at lower risk, what some are calling “Poke-Mon” warfare. Without lethal threats, soldiers will be able to calmly operate robots free of physical constraints such as fatigue or heat. Enabling soldiers to control or monitor robots would ease the popular worry about an extreme scenario in which autonomous robots lower the threshold of the use of violence, a concern again raised at the recent International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence in Buenos Aires.

The United States and Russia have already developed a range of field robots to replace field soldiers and manned platforms. As more and more soldiers operate those robots remotely instead of fighting on the actual battlefield, a dramatic military paradigm shift will take place. Officers and other defense planners may balk at such a major change given their concerns about an over reliance on robotics, but for political leaders, recruitment difficulties, training costs, and limited public tolerance for casualties could very well outweigh military concerns and encourage military doctrines oriented toward robot operation.