The U.S. Marine Corps has started testing high-tech autonomous robots called Multi-Utility Tactical Transports (MUTTs), wielding .50-caliber machine guns.
These MUTTs are roughly the size of an ATV and Marines can control them via remote, but the military wants to create an autonomous version down the line. At this rate, we could soon have weaponized drones soaring the skies and amphibious robots on land and sea, taking combat to the next level.
Machine Gun-Wielding Robot Joins The Military
The high-tech MUTT is the latest military tool and Marines can remotely operate it using a tablet and a joystick. Designed by General Dynamics, MUTTs initially aimed just to transport food, water and various supplies. The Marines, however, started testing MUTTs equipped with .50-caliber machine guns to widen their area of expertise. In the future, MUTTs will be even more autonomous.
"As a remote-controlled or tele-operated teammate, it provides stand-off from threats or increased projection of combat power," General Dynamics explains. "The MUTT is engineered to easily evolve to accommodate new payloads, new controllers and increased levels of autonomy."
MUTTs feature a set of cameras and sensors designed to deliver accurate imaging and can handle heavy-duty tracks, navigating even the roughest terrain. With this in mind, these machine gun-wielding robots could prove to be invaluable tools for the military, as they could withstand conditions that would be extremely hostile for human soldiers.
"It's a mobile platform where it doesn't get fatigued. It doesn't need water. It needs very little maintenance, and it's always in the fight, so that's a great asset to have," a Marine tells Business Insider.
While a remote-controlled MUTT already sports a number of advantages the military could use, the military wants far more from the system than what it currently has to offer.
A senior Marine officer tells Business Insider that the Marine Corps eventually wants to make the MUTT more autonomous, to the point where it could cover a flank by itself or fix itself in case of a system malfunction.
Man vs. Machine?
This concept of a fully autonomous system wielding heavy-duty weapons will surely pose some concerns as well. Russia's humanoid robot that can shoot guns with both hands already stirred some controversy and concerns about terminator-like robots threatening mankind. Stephen Hawking already warned about human destruction from technological advancements, and having armed and autonomous robots will surely add fuel to the fire.
Hawking, Elon Musk, and thousands of others even signed an open letter requesting a ban on autonomous weapons, calling for a clear distinction between human-controlled robots, like the current MUTTs, and ones that are fully autonomous, like future MUTTs could become.
The open letter warned that autonomous weapons can destabilize nations, selectively kill specific ethic groups, subdue populations, assassinate, and otherwise harm humanity. The letter further highlighted that artificial intelligence can help make battlefields safer in many ways, even without making them autonomous and turning them into killing machines.
Without a ban in place, however, the military basically has a green light to develop such technology and make MUTTs and other such robots fully autonomous.