Science Fiction Dictionary
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

 

Robotic Underground Munitions

Robotic underground munition (RUM) is being sought by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). Their basic concept is that of a "one-time use, air-delivered, highly mobile vehicle having certain characteristics similar to an unmanned ground vehicle."

The following technology objectives would move us in this direction, according to DTRA:

  1. Survivable underground communication system.
  2. Capabilities to efficiently overcome natural and man-made obstacles.
  3. Robust sensors and perception.
Certain other characteristics are desirable:
  1. Payload and fuzing development, integration and demonstration. The payload must be compatible with inflight and ground environments including long term storage under adverse temperature conditions, as well as all DoD insensitive munitions and other safety requirements.
  2. Viable passive and active defensive and offensive systems.
  3. Autonomous underground controls and navigation.
  4. Vehicle control logic to avoid, traverse, neutralize or defeat natural and man-made obstacles.
  5. Safe separation and accurate soft landing form an aircraft.
I think that DTRA is making a serious mistake by limiting their search to munitions, because there are more ways to get at an enemy underground besides blowing them up.

For example, in his 1953 short story Second Variety, Philip K. Dick describes small robots with whirling blades that were specifically designed to get at enemy troops in bunkers:

"It doesn't take them long. Not after the first one gets in. It goes wild. You know what the little claws can do. Even one of these is beyond belief. Razors, each finger. Maniacal."

... And they started getting into bunkers, slipping down when the lids were raised for air and a look around. One claw inside a bunker, a churning sphere of blades and metal - that was enough. And when one got in others followed.
(Read more about PKD's robot claws)

DTRA should also take a serious look at the robot earthworms described by Harry Harrison in his classic 1962 short story War With The Robots:

It resembled no machine that Pere had ever seen, rather it looked like a mass of tiny gleaming roots: the red earth still packed between them heightened the illusion.

"How does it work?"

The robot reached out - leaning very close to focus its microscopic eyepieces - and carefully pulled one of the strands free. It lay on the robot's outstretched metallic palm, eight inches long, an eighth of an inch in diameter. Seen close it was not completely flexible, but made instead of pivoted and smoothly finished segments. The robot pointed out the parts of interest.

"...At the front end is a hard-edged orifice that drills a hole in the ground. Debris is carried back through the body of the machine and eliminated here: in operation it is not unlike the common earthworm. Directional apparatus here guides it, oriented by a gravimeter to locate our base. Here a power unit and here a frequency generator...

"They have no metallic components ... they move very slowly... we estimate they entered the ground four years ago."

These robot earthworms completely destroyed underground bunkers by slowly digesting their infrastructure, which may take longer than blowing it up, but wouldn't you rather be thorough?

From RFI for RUM via Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 3/20/2010)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )

Related News Stories - (" Weapon ")

Bullet Steers Itself! The Advanced Low-Cost Munitions Ordnance ALaMO
'You've heard of a bullet that has your name on it.' - Michael Crichton, 1985.

Russians Think US Is Weaponizing Asteroids
'BY PUSHING AGAINST THE LITTLE MARTIAN MOON WITH OUR ROCKET SHIP, WE HAD LESSENED THE CENTRIFUGAL SPEED THAT HELD IT BALANCED IN THE SKY.' - Philip Nowlan and D. Calkins, 1930.

Drone Bombings In Moscow Foreseen 100 Years Ago
'Once the target is confirmed, it uses an IR laser to send a coded signal back to the parent, clearing it to attack.' - Daniel Suarez, 2012.

TM-62 Loitering Ground Landmine
Runaway movie comes to life!

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction Timeline
1600-1899
1900-1939
1940's   1950's
1960's   1970's
1980's   1990's
2000's   2010's

Current News

Ulm Sleep Pods For The Homeless
'The lid lifted and she crawled inside...'

Prophetic Offers Lucid Dreaming Halo With Morpheus-1 AI
''Leads trail away from insertion points on her face and wrist... to a lucid dreamer...'

More Like A Tumblebug Than A Motorcycle
'It is about the size and shape of a kitchen stool, gyro-stabilized on a single wheel...'

Tesla Camera-Only Vision Predicted In 1930's SF
'By its means, the machine can see.'

First Ever Proof Of Water On Asteroids
'Yes, strangely enough there was still sufficient water beneath the surface of Vesta.'

Aptera Solar EV More Stylish Than Heinlein Steel Tortoise
'When confronted by hills, or rough terrain, it did not stop, but simply slowed until the task demanded equaled its steady power output.'

Gigantic Space Sunshade Would Fight Global Warming
'...the light of the sun had been polarized by two crossed fields so that no radiation could pass.'

Untethered Spacewalk's 50th Anniversary
'But that space walk of mine wasn't so very amazing.'

ESA Designs Huge Inflatable Moonbase
'It was like being inside a balloon; indeed, that was exactly where he was.'

AlphaGarden Robot Cares For Gardens Better Than Humans
'...a simple clock-set servok with pipe and hose arms.'

Let's Make Slaver Sunflowers! Engineering Plants To Reflect Light
'The mirror-blossom was a terrible weapon.'

TeslaBot Uber Driver (2024) And The Automatic Motorist (1911)
'Robots have worse problems than anybody'

DiffuseBot Uses Generative AI To Invent New Soft Robots
'It embodies several small-scale multiple stampers, apparently for dealing with sheet metal.'

Philips Smart Palm Recognition Smart Deadbolt
'A palm lock must be keyed to one individual's hand shape...'

BMind Smart Mirror from Baracoda
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who has the greatest wellness of all?

Ballie Your AI Robot Companion From Samsung
Projects your content anywhere you like.

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.