Is U.S. dominance in military robotics starting to crumble?

Foreign Policy Magazine's recent examination of "The Looming Robotics Gap" by University of Pennsylvania international relations associate professor Michael C. Horowitz, and a recent Pentagon insider on national security issues, is an up-to-date review of the worldwide state of military robotics.


Besides comparing Chinese and American unmanned flying robots that can landPLE1405_WEB_The Robot Report Drones Courtesy: The Robot Report on an aircraft carrier, and Chinese, Israeli, and American Reaper look-alike high-flying surveillance bombers, Horowitz describes the attitudes (sensitivities), direction, and budgeting hold-ups and cuts thwarting America's ability to sustain its leadership while having to absorb a 33% drop in technology investment.

Companies such as Google have set their sights on developing consumer robotics to serve and fuel an international market that some estimate will generate $37 billion in annual sales by 2018. These commercial developments could have military ramifications. As automated technology becomes increasingly easy to procure, small militaries and even nonstate actors will be able to exploit robotics for military ends.

For example, the commercial sector is leading the way in developing automated driving technology, and the software that governs a self-driving car might well facilitate the design of a remotely driven tank. As off-the-shelf robotics become increasingly advanced, it will become easier for foreign militaries to close the gap in capabilities with the United States.

More sinister is the possibility that commercially available robotics will make cutting-edge technologies available to terrorists. Even now, do-it-yourself drone technology is widely available, used by ordinary citizens and companies for everything from monitoring wildlife to filming snowboarders. In April, the FBI stopped a Moroccan citizen in the United States who allegedly was plotting to strap bombs onto simple consumer drones and fly them into a federal building.

Perhaps the biggest transition I could glean from the Horowitz article was the reversal from the past DARPA investment formula of solving scientific problems to enhance future military use, then to transfer the technology over to the commercial sector, to a newer formula taking advantage of commercial investment (such as that done by Google) to military adaption alongside commercial development.

Frank Tobe is the owner and publisher of The Robot Report. This article originally appeared here [hyperlink:]. Edited by Jessica DuBois-Maahs, associate content manager, CFE Media,

DAVID , OH, United States, 06/04/14 01:30 PM:

At one time the wrist watch was the talk of the town. Then a talking wrist watch. Now you can view whoever you are talking to from that same watch. What i am getting at is that instead of trying to make a more sophisticated plane, train, or automobil, lets think outside of the box. How about trying to develope a force field that would protect us. We have made all of the other fictional gaggets come true, so why not a force field.
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
The System Integrator Giants program lists the top 100 system integrators among companies listed in CFE Media's Global System Integrator Database.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
This eGuide illustrates solutions, applications and benefits of machine vision systems.
Learn how to increase device reliability in harsh environments and decrease unplanned system downtime.
This eGuide contains a series of articles and videos that considers theoretical and practical; immediate needs and a look into the future.
Choosing controllers: PLCs, PACs, IPCs, DCS? What's best for your application?; Wireless trends; Design, integration; Manufacturing Day; Product Exclusive
Variable speed drives: Smooth, efficient, electrically quite motion control; Process control upgrades; Mobile intelligence; Product finalists: Vote now; Product Exclusives
Machine design tips: Pneumatic or electric; Software upgrades; Ethernet advantages; Additive manufacturing; Engineering Leaders; Product exclusives: PLC, HMI, IO
This article collection contains the 5 most referenced articles on improving the use of PID.
Learn how Industry 4.0 adds supply chain efficiency, optimizes pricing, improves quality, and more.

Find and connect with the most suitable service provider for your unique application. Start searching the Global System Integrator Database Now!

Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Drilling for Big Data: Managing the flow of information; Big data drilldown series: Challenge and opportunity; OT to IT: Creating a circle of improvement; Industry loses best workers, again
Pipeline vulnerabilities? Securing hydrocarbon transit; Predictive analytics hit the mainstream; Dirty pipelines decrease flow, production—pig your line; Ensuring pipeline physical and cyber security