Armed with a budget of over $700 billion for the coming year – which will likely continue to grow over the course of Trump’s Pentagon-controlled presidency — the Pentagon’s dystopian vision for the future of the military is quickly becoming a question not of if but when.
by Whitney Webb
Part 2 - Robots that are smarter, faster, stronger and, of course, don’t die
Ground robots like those used in the recent Army exercise are hardly the only type of robot soldier soon to be at the Pentagon’s disposal. Weapons manufacturers have been all too eager to comply with the Pentagon’s growing demand for automated war machines and have already developed a variety of such devices, to the delight of senior military officials.
In 2015, U.S. weapons giant Lockheed Martin began working with the military to develop automated networks that manage complex missions involving both unmanned aerial and ground vehicles, an effort still underway. That same year, the Navy began deploying underwater drones. A year later in 2016, Boeing – now the largest defense contractor in the U.S. — launched an unmanned submarine designed for exploratory missions as well as combat, followed by DARPA’s release of an autonomous drone ship to be used for hunting down enemy submarines, set to be used by the U.S. Navy later this year.
While such machines have been advertised as combat aids to human soldiers, DARPA has also been working on developing so-called “killer robots” — i.e., robot infantry set to replace human soldiers. Many of these robots have been developed by the Massachusetts-based and DARPA-funded company Boston Dynamics, whose veritable Sears Catalog of robots includes several models designed specifically for military use.
One of those robots, dubbed “Atlas,” is capable of jumping and backflips, carrying heavy loads, navigating uneven terrain, resisting attacks from a group of humans and even breaking through walls. Another Boston Dynamics robot, called “WildCat” can run at sustained speeds of nearly 20 miles per hour. By comparison, a gifted human runner can briefly sprint at about 16 miles per hour.