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Don't let the robot warriors get us
Jamaica's Usain Bolt.
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APPARENTLY, we didn't
Or maybe we did. Those films may have convinced the Department of Defense that robot soldiers are the way to go.
Drones are already playing a major role in fighting in the Middle East. "Top Gun"-type pilots are gradually being replaced by people sitting in a room far from the fighting, remotely flying unmanned aerial vehicles in battle.
That's working so well that it's only logical to consider the possibility of robot soldiers fighting on the ground. And we may eventually see robot fighters that are stronger than humans, can run faster and can jump higher.
This week, the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency released a video showing that its Cheetah robot can sprint faster than Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt. It broke its own land speed record of 18 miles per hour, going 28.3 mph on a treadmill in a 20-meter split. Bolt has run a 27.78 mph 20-meter split.
Of course, the robot then fell off the treadmill.
On the positive side, it didn't strut around and brag about the record. And there's no suspicion that the robot used performance-enhancing drugs. So it's a good role model for young robots.
Next year Boston Dynamics, which is developing the Cheetah, expects to have a WildCat robot that will be able to run fast over outdoor terrain. The company expects that in time, robots will be able to run 60 to 70 miles per hour, according to its website.
Its humanoid Petman robot can climb stairs, run on a treadmill and do pushups.
Boston Dynamics has also developed an 11-pound robot called the Sand Flea that can jump 30 feet in the air. It's intended to give commanders on the battlefield a quick look at their surroundings. It can jump over a compound wall or onto a roof, according to the company's website.
Combine those capabilities into one warrior robot and you have a superhero.
Let's hope these robots turn out to be more like Robocop than the Terminator.
I, for one, would not welcome robot overlords.
Michael Zitz: 540/846-5163