Russia's humanoid robot Fedor will be sent to the International Space Station to assist Russian cosmonauts.
Prior to getting launched for space missions by the year 2021, however, the so-called cyber cosmonaut is learning a new skill that is reminiscent of the cyborg assassins in the science fiction film Terminator.
Robot Trained To Fire Pistols With Both Hands
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin revealed that Fedor (Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research) is learning to shoot guns using both of its arms. Rogozin, who oversees Russia's defense and space sectors, said that this new ability can be helpful in improving the robot's motor and decision-making skills.
In photos and a short video shared on Twitter and Facebook, Rogozin showed the robot's new ability to fire a pair of pistols using both of its hands at a target board with impressive precision. Rogozin said that teaching Fedor to shoot will teach it to make quick decisions and set priorities.
Killing Machines That Can End The Human Race
The robot's new ability though may inevitably raise concerns for machines that are equipped with the ability to kill humans. Stephen Hawking himself has warned about the dangers of artificial intelligence that can spell doom to mankind.
"We cannot quite know what will happen if a machine exceeds our own intelligence, so we can't know if we'll be infinitely helped by it, or ignored by it and sidelined, or conceivably destroyed by it," the scientist said in 2014.
The possibility of a robot apocalypse has already prompted Europe to make preparations. It has already put forward a proposal to avert a robot revolution. The proposal aims to implement, among others, a kill switch that would make it possible for humans to terminate a robot quickly and remotely should the need arise.
Not Creating A Terminator
Rogozin described Fedor as a "Russian fighting robot" but gave assurance that the country is not creating a Terminator, the machine created by the artificial intelligence Skynet in the movies, that can independently kill humans and aim to eliminate the human race.
"We are not creating a Terminator, but artificial intelligence that will be of great practical significance in various fields," Rogozin wrote.
Fedor's Other Skills
Besides having the ability to shoot guns, Fedor also has a range of other skills. It has already been trained to walk upright, lift weights, do push-ups, operate a drill, screw in a light bulb, open a door, insert a key into a lock, and even drive a car.
Standing 6 feet tall and weighing about 233 pounds, the robot can lift objects weighing up to 44 pounds. It can work autonomously, respond to voice commands, and be controlled remotely.
Robots In Space Missions
The robot was unveiled in 2016 by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects, the country's military research arm. It will be sent to the International Space Station to do tasks considered too dangerous to be done by humans in space.
NASA is similarly testing robots for space missions such as the origami-inspired scout robot designed to explore the Martian surface.
Russia's humanoid robot will be launched as a sole passenger aboard Russia's new Federation spacecraft in 2021.