Albert Einstein once famously said that “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” We don’t know if there will ever be a World War III, but if there is, the usage of robots might be very common. In Israel, they are already putting robots on the frontlines as part of the Israeli Defense Force.
The IDF announced that they had already put robotics into force in the form of self-driving cars that are patrolling up and down the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Palestine. The two countries have been in conflict with each other since 1948, and shows no sign of ending anytime soon.
Palestine is not the only country that Israel is worried about, as they are also attempting to patrol their borders with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt. These vehicles have machine guns that can be remote controlled and are able to offer up defensive forces without putting any member of the IDF in danger, and this is just the first step in robotic combat for Israel.
While the guns on the vehicles are controlled by humans for now, the IDF has said that they plan on developing further technology to allow for guns to be controlled by artificial intelligence. That is the part that is raising a lot of eyebrows as AI isn’t ever going to be perfect into determining who is a threat and who isn’t. For now, these cars have been giving the acronym of UGV, which stands for unmanned ground vehicles.
It might come as a surprise that Israel is the first country to use unmanned ground vehicles in active service, especially with the massive United States military budget. The U.S. has been developing the technology for several years, but have not entered and UGVs into active service. Part of the reason is U.S. has not done so is the margin for error as self-driving vehicles can get themselves into dangerous and terrain that can’t be traversed. The country is more focused on self driving vehicles that are starting to hit civilian streets.
So why was Israel so quick into getting into this technology? There is a lot of danger on the border, and they have actually been using unmanned vehicles for several years. The only difference is that the vehicles they were previously using still needed to be controlled from a remote location. The current vehicles are designed to only drive on the route that was set for them so that they don’t get into any of the rough terrain.
An interesting part about the technology is that the exact same AI that is being used in the IDF’s UGVs can also be implemented into any car, meaning that self driving cars on the roads might be more common sooner rather than later. More robotics will also be used as the head of the IDF’s robotics department estimated that we’re not far away from robotic soldiers that can be used in place instead of humans.
Are we heading down the road into a situation where the “Terminator” movies become non-fiction? If we are, it seems that we’re going to be taking self driving cars to get there as the future of combat is drastically changing.