War machine or playback?

With Elrob, the performance show for militar robot, the struggle for resources for robotics achieves a new level

From 16. to 18. Mai took place in the Bundeswehrbungsbelande near Hammelburg under the title Elrob (European Land-Robot Trial) the first performance show for ground-studded militar robots. It was no competition, the organizers were not to emphasize mude. In fact, neither placements were determined, nor pricing. Nevertheless, Elrob has good prospects to become one of the most significant European robotics events.

War machine or game of play?

The 2.8 tons of heaviness “Gecko” From the Bavarian company Base Ten Systems, the large participant was the performance show. The robot vehicle can be satellite up to 1.500 kilometers away are controlled

21 Teams of five countries sent their remote robots over obstacles, which had been built in built-in and undeveloped countries. The various difficulties that had to overwind them were built by the militar in cooperation with the Research Institute for Communication, Information Processing and Ergonomics FGAN. It was clear to explore dark rooms, smell through passage or stairs to overwind. Even if there were no medals to win, the services of the robots were registered by a jury exactly.

Heavy armed terminators were not used. For such systems, as they are staged spectacular in Hollywood films, the European militar has not yet registered no need. “We are still pretty at the beginning with the robotics,” Roomed Brigadegeneral Reinhard Kammerer from the army of the army. For the future, he did not want to exclude the development of armed robots. For the time being, however, it would be necessary to keep soldiers out of critical situations using robots and increase their actions. In a robot that not only decided to decipher or bombs, but also “effect” should also be the requirements for reliability considerably high.

At the reliability, it still happens. There were problems with the radio connection, robots lost their drive belts or stayed in the mud. The Robot “Talon” of the British company Qinetiq, which is already used by the US troops in Iraq, threw in the attempt to open a cabinet, almost all the closet.

The head of the jury Henrik I. Christensen, Professor for Computer Science at the Council-Technical University of Stockholm and Coordinator of the European Robotic Network Euron, revealed very satisfied with the course of the event. The concept has preserved if the achievements of the robots still want to nurse. Deficits had shown themselves in particular in the sensor technology and the interface to the human operator. In order to relieve soldiers who are under special stress in the fighting force, therefore more autonomy is required. “Tailorously, the operator still needs to control each joint at a robot arm,” says Christensen. “For example, he should only show the robot to show what he should grab. The hunting positions required for that the robot then calculates itself.”

The event has emerged from a Workshop of NATO, which took place in September 2004. Representatives of the militar, industry and academic research wanted to find out which technologies can be realized for military deployment by 2008 and what are required for efforts. In a white paper summarizing the results of the workshop, they first identified the funf most important tasks in which support by robots most important goods. These are: clearing and monitoring; Mini recording; Gentle transport in convoy with automatic loading and unloading; Searching vehicles and persons after bombs and weapons; Transport of equipment for infantry lists.

War machine or game of play?

RTS-Dora from the University of Hannover Navigated Party Autonomy through the Girls: The operator introduced only individual route points to which the robot found the road both self-standing.

Immediately it is called in the White Paper: “Autonomous fires are not accepted by the militar.”The deduction should continue to be tacked by people. A game around Ballernder ED-209 as in the movie “Robocop” so at least in Europe will have some time. How long, however, the European militar can maintain this backup given American research on armed land robot systems, another question.

The White Paper also formulates the intention of the European militar to take more influence on robotics development. “Although there are quite a few influence of the militar on the functionalities of the robots,” says it, “are the skills and solution ideas of the industry leading in most robotic projects. The NATO Working Group, Multi-Robot Systems in Military Domains, believes that this is an unsatisfactory situation that needs to be tackled.”

War machine or game of play?

The Portuguese robot “Raposa” must give up after it has lost a drive belt

In this respect, Elrob may have not been a competition even now. Nevertheless, this event is clearly and unmistakable in a competition for resources for the future development of robots and artificial intelligence. Civil projects like the RoboCup get serious competition. A social debate about which criteria should be aware of technology development is becoming more and more urgent: Do we want robots that preserve in war? Do we want robots that sell well? Or do we want robots that are good (game)?

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