Florida-based company Duke Robotics has built a gun-carrying drone that can carry and fire machine guns and grenade launchers, thereby potentially decreasing the number of troops required on the battlefield. The start-up company has already been lauded by the Department of Defense (DoD) for its prototype, which Duke Robotics is calling the 'Tikad', as well as sparking interest from the Israeli army.
The unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is remote-controlled, and according to BT, is capable of safely carrying machine guns or grenade launchers and firing them from the drone. Naturally, this would put physical persons out of harm's way and instead employ the risk of losing drones instead of the lives of U.S. troops. According to BT, Duke Robotics has garnered itself a 'security innovation award' from the DoD, which is certainly a big boost for the startup, and a sign that their prototypes may actually be safe and functional.
Thankfully, we have a promo video of Duke Robotics' 'Tikad' which gives us a slightly clearer picture of this thing in action.
According to BT, the drone is fairly lightweight and can easily be transported into war zones and then remotely controlled. The UAV has built-in cameras that are designed to identify targets and subsequently engage with them.
"TIKAD, the Future Soldier, saves lives by replacing boots on the ground," Duke Robotics' websitesays. "Duke Robotics will work with select government clients around the globe with the goal to reduce the number of deployed troops as well as empower troops with immediate air-power deployment, improving prospects of mission success, minimizing battlefield injuries, loss of life to friendly troops and saving innocent civilians."
Though this seems like a logical way to take human beings out of harm's way (at least on one side of the battlefield), not everybody is as convinced that this is a step in the right direction. According to BT, an expert in robotics and Professor Noel Sharky told the BBC that "Big military drones traditionally have to fly thousands of feet overhead to get to targets, but these smaller drones could easily fly down the street to apply violent force." His concern, it seems, is the loss of civilian life within cities near war zones. This should not be dismissed, as civilian casualties have been immense when it comes to drone warfare.