When cardboard robots go to war with humans
Posted On August 6, 2021
In the future, it may not be so much about the machines’ capability to fight wars or to provide services to people but the weapons they can deploy to do it.
In a paper in the American Economic Review, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have proposed a cardboard robot that would be armed with a laser gun, a small rocket launcher and a variety of other weapons.
The paper, titled “Weapons for a cardboard robots armed with lasers”, is published in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics.
In the paper, the team suggests that cardboard robots could be deployed in the field in order to take out hostile weapons and deploy them at short range in order not to be vulnerable to a wider range of enemy attacks.
These types of weapons are already used in combat, and the paper suggests that a cardboard-armed robot would be able to fire at targets from a distance of about 50 metres.
The authors, led by Rui Costa, a postdoctoral fellow in engineering and computer science, say that these types of attacks are currently a “rare and dangerous occurrence”.
In a press release, they write: “As a result of the proliferation of autonomous weapons systems and the widespread use of self-driving vehicles, there has been increasing concern that the proliferation and use of such weapons could be dangerous to society and potentially devastating to civilians.
In this paper, we propose a new type of weapon that would enable cardboard robots to be equipped with sophisticated laser weapons, in order that they can be used in urban warfare situations, and in cases where they could be required to engage hostile military forces.”
The paper does not, however, say how this weapon would be made or how long the weapon would last.
The team argues that a “miniaturised” laser gun would be capable of firing an extremely long range of pulses, which could last up to a few seconds.
This is because the laser beam would be designed to travel through the air at about the speed of sound.
“A laser gun that could be fired at up to 500 metres would be powerful enough to destroy buildings, and at a distance that could destroy vehicles, and destroy a large area in just a few minutes,” the paper explains.
The laser gun could also be used as a “weapon of mass destruction” because it would fire laser beams at targets that could “burn, shatter, and cause serious injury or death”.
The paper argues that cardboard-based robots could also potentially be used to defend a military facility, for example, a base.
The researchers also propose that the weapon could be used for “rebalancing” the forces of a civilian or a military target.
This could be a “pre-emptive strike” or a “strike to deny the enemy access to a key facility”.
These types and types of threats have been discussed in the past, but the authors have suggested that they are much more likely to come to fruition if they become more widely used in the future.
They write: This paper proposes a new, potentially highly effective, weapon system for the use of a cardboard robotic arm, with the aim of avoiding the proliferation, proliferation, and misuse of weapon systems, in addition to the potential risk of such weapon systems being used for pre-emptory strikes, or to disrupt or defuse a critical infrastructure.
“We are currently considering a wide range of possible applications for this system, including the creation of small, low-cost, portable, autonomous, and armed unmanned platforms for humanitarian aid and disaster relief, as well as the use as a deterrent for hostile military use of these systems.”
The research was funded by the US Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and DARPA.
It is a collaboration between Penn and Carnegie Mellon.
The article has been reproduced with permission from The Irish News.