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 ")

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.

LaWS Laser Can Take Out Rogue Drones
Looks like a weapon for the Runaway squad!

Keith Laumer's Bolo Autonomous Tanks Right On Schedule
'I cannot lie idle under attack.' - Keith Laumer, 1976.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Made In Space To Manufacture Optical Fiber In Orbit
'Mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Dune Fans! Power Your Devices With Sweaty Shirts
Yet another power source from humans.

Orwell's Memory Hole Looms Larger Thanks To Nvidia
'All history was a palimpsest, scraped clean and reinscribed exactly as often as was necessary.'

Pipefish Robot Checks Pipes Cheap
Just like capsule endoscopy, but for bigger pipes. That go underground.

Nifty New SDS Space Debris Sensor For ISS
'Their radars... could easily pinpoint the debris of the early Space Age.'

NanoRacks Space Station Module Concept Validated
Space junk into space architecture.

Nuclear Drones Could Fly For Years
'I sent my eyes on their rounds and tended my gallery of one hundred-thirty changing pictures...'

SciFiQ Science Fiction Writing Aid
'Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.'

Robot Only Faster, Not Better, At Recycling
'Whenever a robot finds something it can't identify straight off... it puts whatever it is in the hopper outside your window.'

Poland Starts With 1000 Warmate 'Suicide Drones'
'Royal Security had told the pods to electrocute you or blast you into chum.'

Dream Of Building Your Own Rocket?
Fiorello Bodoni, you inspire all of us.

Zero Mass 'Vaporators' Pull Drinking Water From The Air
Did you think of Star Wars?

Elon Musk Fears A 'Fleet-Wide Hack' Of Autonomous Vehicles
'Khan grinned. 'It's alive! Bu-wahhahahah!''

China Melts Tibetan Permafrost To Plant Forest
'Can you give us a microwave spotlight?'

iFlytek Doctor Robot First To Pass Medical Exams
Doctor shortage? No problem, we'll just use the autodoc.

Slaughterbot AI KIller Quadcopter Drones
'The real border was defended by... a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats.'

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.