Many believe that robotics should be limited labor. However, no one has been blind to the fact that robots will be used as tools of war, as many dystopic sci-fi movies and stories have shown us. That fantasy is slowly becoming reality, as the Australian Army have received prototype “ghost robots” that can change the battlefield forever.
The mind is your best weapon
According to a report from Daily Mail, soldiers in Australia now have “ghost robots” that can be controlled with the mind. This new piece of technology allows a soldier to focus on one of six white squares which flicker on an augmented reality lens at varying frequencies. Each white square is a predetermined location for the “ghost robot” to go to, sort of like real-life chess.
Developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), these robots are meant to work alongside their fellow soldiers. UTS used a combination of HoloLens mixed reality smartglasses and a graphene biosensor to command the aforementioned Ghost Robotics quadruped robot. With this, soldiers will be able to move the robots around a battlefield without having to be there, making them perfect for combat.
“So the technology that we demonstrated today is called a brain robotic interface, and it's a way of a soldier operator being able to command an autonomous system and use their brain signals,” says Lieutenant Colonel Kate Tollenaar. “So rather than voice or command console or any other form of command, we can an interface via headset to allow them to move an autonomous system and today we use the Ghost Robots because RICO has had experience with experimentation with this kind of autonomous system.”
Strong weapons require a strong mind
While these “ghost robots” seem perfect for the battlefield, some of the soldiers who have used this technology have pointed out that visual concentration is very important. From what’s been reported, it seems that soldiers don’t have to think about anything specific to make these robots move, as they mostly have to focus on the flicker through the HoloLens.
“The control I can exert over the robot is I can tell it to go to a number of in this case six predetermined locations,” says Sergeant Damian Robinson. “You don't have to think anything specific to make the robot operate, but you do need to focus on that flicker so it's more of a visual concentration rather than having to clear your mind and have mindfulness.”
It’s also worth noting that the report mostly focuses on movement, so it seems that robots using weapons are still far away. That doesn’t mean these are useless though, since these ghost robots can be used to scout and gather information. Expect more updates on this when they become more popular and, potentially, dangerous.