Soldiers Learn To Trust Robots

In Israel, small teams of soldiers are learning to use and trust small robots in urban combat situations. While training, they learn the limitations of the different robotic platforms.

The robots arrive at Nivís unit in the CT school, where they are tested locally. Nivís unit then goes out on [combat] missions with the robots for further testing. After the robot passes these trials, it is integrated into the CT school, where Niv and David write a curriculum for using it in the field. Then the special forces units, who spend a lot of time at Mitkan Adam, get to try it out next, and give further feedback Ö to Niv. Finally, Niv disseminates the new protocols for using the robots to the rest of the ground forces.

I've written about one of the robots that are being used in training exercises; the remote-controlled Eye Ball surveillance camera, a small, spherical device.

According to the Wired article, soldiers are initially reluctant to trust robots to watch their backs. The key, according to Israeli trainers, is to make sure the bots are extremely user-friendly.

There are other approaches to using small, spherical robots.

(Philip K. Dick's Claws (or Screamers) - from the 1995 movie)

In his 1953 short story Second Variety, Philip K. Dick writes about the relationship between soldiers and the autonomous robots that help guard their bunkers.

The Russian... was only a few paces from the bunker. Eric was getting fidgety. He played with his pistol, glancing at Leone. "Don't worry," Leone said. "He won't get here. They'll take care of him... They hang around close to the bunker..."

Leone touched Eric's arm. "Here one comes."

Across the ground something metallic came, flashing in the sunlight of midday. A metal sphere. It raced up the hill after the Russian, its treads flying. It was small, one of the baby ones. Its claws were out, two razor projections spinning in a blur of white steel...
(Read more about PKD's claws - guard robots

In the story, the soldiers use "tabs", metal wrist bands, that emit radiation detected by the claws, to ensure that the claws do not turn upon their masters.

Via Wired, with thanks to Frolix_8.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/6/2009)

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