Lockheed Showcasing A Future Sans Flesh and Blood

Our old friends at the Skunk Works have been pretty busy of late, and they've got a few robots to show for it. At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. today they showed off a few of their new designs. See the official Press Release for very little detail.

Among the driverless harbingers of destruction are the very high tech Morphing Vehicles which include a UAV with dynamically reconfigurable wings. These vehicles (clip) could linger outside of enemy range for extended durations, and fold their wings using piezoelectric materials to dart in at near supersonic speed.

Also on display was the Polecat UAV. A high-altitude drone prototyped using stereolithography (Wiki), so they can be cheaply produced and reproduced by the machines.

And if you think you can hide in the sea, forget it. The Protector Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV) and Advanced Development Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (ADUUV) will be on patrol there as well.

Now, I get the whole, "You don't need to write a letter home when a robot dies." angle, but I don't get all the emphasis on making these robots autonomous. With swarm robotics and advances in AI, there may soon be parent bots and spouse bots (no link for that one) to whom you need to write home, and they'll be none too pleased with lack of respect their artificial life has been treated. I'm sure these early-generation war automotons are pretty dumb by sci-fi standards, but slippery slopes abound. As soon as we see an autonomous robot as a disposable soldier, we may not so easily change that perspective when they attain sentience.

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