Earlier this month, the Russian weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov Group made a low-key announcement with frightening implications. The company revealed it had developed a range of combat robots that are fully automated and used artificial intelligence to identify targets and make independent decisions. The revelation rekindled the simmering, and controversial, debate over autonomous weaponry and asked the question, at what point do we hand control of lethal weapons over to artificial intelligence?
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc’s (GA-ASI) SkyGuardian drone set out today on its historic transatlantic flight. At 12:48 pm CDT, the MQ-9B Medium-altitude, Long-endurance (MALE) Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) took off from the company’s Flight Test and Training Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota and is on its way to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England.
The UK’s Archie O’Brien had a dream of zipping below the waters off Iceland or swimming with dolphins off the coast of Bora Bora. He looked at contraptions that would pull him along underwater at speed – something like the AquaJet H2 or Scubalec, for example – but everything already available proved beyond his reach. So he decided to design and build the Cuda underwater jetpack, which will be going into production early next year.
China says that it has developed a laser rifle that can “carbonize” human flesh at a range of 800 m (2,625 ft), yet weighs only 3 kg (6.6 lb). In a report in the South China Morning Post, Chinese researchers say that the ZKZM-500 laser assault rifle is a fully portable “non-lethal” weapon that can burn hair, skin and signs, and even penetrate and set fire to fuel tanks.
Folks looking for a last mile transport solution have choice-a-plenty nowadays, but the CanguRo offers more than just a comfy ride. The RidRoid robot – a mash up of ride and android – has some useful smarts cooked in, being able to follow its user around between rides, or make its way to a meeting point on its own.
Back in 2014, DARPA announced the launch of its Ground X-Vehicle Technology (GXV-T) program, an initiative designed to break through a single paradigm that has been weighing the military down in ground combat. That paradigm is the ever-escalating vendetta between tanks and anti-tank guns.
Conventional multicopter drones are excellent at hovering and VTOL, but they can’t cover long distances as efficiently as fixed-wing aircraft. A team of students from the Singapore University of Technology and Design is trying to get the best of both worlds with the Transformable HOvering Rotorcraft (THOR).
At the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Bell helicopter has unveiled its new V-247 Vigilant tiltrotor drone for the US Marine Corps. Like the company’s V-22 Osprey, the Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) can lift off and hover like a helicopter, yet has the range and speed of a fixed-wing aircraft. According to Bell, the Vigilant can carry out combat reconnaissance missions from land bases without runways or from small ships with flight decks.