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:
Certain other characteristics are desirable:
- Survivable underground communication system.
- Capabilities to efficiently overcome natural and man-made obstacles.
- Robust sensors and perception.
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.
- 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.
- Viable passive and active defensive and offensive systems.
- Autonomous underground controls and navigation.
- Vehicle control logic to avoid, traverse, neutralize or defeat natural and man-made obstacles.
- Safe separation and accurate soft landing form an aircraft.
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 |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 4 )
Related News Stories -
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...' - Daniel Suarez, 2012.
Musk's Boring Flamethrower
'Skeletons in tatters. Burned by a flesh gun'- Alfred Bester, 1974.
Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.' - Neal Stephenson, 1995.
TIKAD Armed Drone Ready To Fight
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...' - Larry Niven, 1972.
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.
PAL-V Liberty Flying Helicopter Car
'...lifted themselves to skimming flight upon whirling helicopters."
Space Drones - UK's Effective Space To Launch Rocket Tugs
'Twenty rocket tugs towed it from its Earth hangar out into space.'
DIY Autonomous Robot Detects Trash
'The search-bug detached itself and rolled forward.'
Ancient Russian Walking Excavator Would Be Perfect RV
I don't need it to go fast, it just needs to amble along.
ELROI Satellite 'License Plate'
Robert Heinlein was thinking about this in 1941.
When Robots Beg For Their Lives
"Just what do you think you're doing... Dave.'
Do You Still Want A Folding Screen Phone?
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled...'
'Snapchat Dysmorphia' Now A Thing, Say Plastic Surgeons
'The program raced up the screen one scan line at a time, subtly smoothing, deleting and coloring.'
Quiet Electric Cars Law Finalized By US Transportation Department
'... a sound tape to supply the noise'
Drone Assassin Fails To Kill Venezuelan President
'The spotter descends, and we think it searches the vicinity, looking for the victim's face...'
Stick-On Tape Speakers, As Predicted By Bruce Sterling
Flexible tape speakers, someday.
Bezos Invites You To New Life In Off-World Colonies
'A new life awaits you!'
Amazon's Rekognition System Sees Criminals In Congress
'... the imprint of her image on the telephoto cell.'
Build Your Own Space Suit For Cheap
'I'm going to pump the air from this room... so that the interior will be like airless and pressure-less space.'
CIMON Space Sidekick For Weary Astronauts
I welcome our floating robotic assistants.
SRI MicroFactory Of Microrobots Recalls Dick's Autofac
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants... constructing something...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories