Israeli Company Unveils Remote-Controlled Armed Robot

Israel’s LOD — On Monday, an Israeli defense contractor presented a remote-controlled armed robot that can patrol war zones, locate infiltrators, and open fire, according to the company. The unmanned vehicle is the most recent advancement in the realm of drone technology, which is quickly changing the modern battlefield.

Proponents argue that semi-autonomous machines allow militaries to better defend their troops, while detractors worry that this is another hazardous step toward robots making life-or-death choices.

The “REX MKII,” a four-wheel-drive robot created by Israel Aerospace Industries, was unveiled on Monday.

According to Rani Avni, deputy head of the company’s autonomous systems section, it is controlled by an electronic tablet and may be outfitted with two machine guns, cameras, and sensors. The robot can gather intelligence for ground forces, transport injured soldiers and supplies into and out of battle, and strike targets nearby.

It is the most sophisticated of ELTA Systems’ subsidiary Aerospace Industries’ more than half-dozen unmanned vehicles produced over the last 15 years.

The Israeli military is now employing the Jaguar, a smaller but similar vehicle, to patrol the Gaza Strip’s border and assist enforce a blockade imposed by Israel in 2007, when the tiny area was captured by the Islamic militant group Hamas.

Gaza is home to 2 million Palestinians who have been effectively trapped by the embargo, which is backed in part by Egypt. Protests are common along the border, as are occasional attempts by Palestinian terrorists or desperate laborers to penetrate Israel.

The semi-autonomous Jaguar is armed with a machine gun and was meant to limit soldiers’ exposure to the risks of patrolling the volatile Gaza-Israel border, according to the Israeli army’s website. It’s just one of several capabilities that have given Israel’s military a huge technical advantage over Hamas, including drones armed with guided missiles.

Other militaries, like those of the United States, the United Kingdom, and Russia, are progressively employing unmanned ground vehicles. Their responsibilities include logistical assistance, mine clearing, and weapon firing.

The tablet may be used to manually operate the car. Many of its operations, such as its mobility and surveillance systems, may, however, run independently.

“With each mission, the gadget collects additional data, which it then uses to learn for future missions,” said Yonni Gedj, a robotics division operations specialist.

Critics have expressed worries that robotic weapons may decide to shoot targets on their own, possibly erroneously. According to the firm, such capabilities exist but are not available to customers.

“It is conceivable to make the weapon itself autonomous, but that is now a user decision,” Avni added. “The system’s or the user’s maturity isn’t quite there yet.”

Such weapons are concerning, according to Bonnie Docherty, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch’s armaments section, since they can’t be trusted to discriminate between fighters and civilians or make informed decisions about the harm strikes may bring to surrounding populations.

Docherty stated, “Machines cannot comprehend the worth of human life, which diminishes human dignity and breaches human rights legislation.” Docherty, a Harvard Law School lecturer, argued for fully automated weapons to be outlawed under international law in a 2012 paper.

The development of autonomous ground vehicles has lagged behind that of autonomous planes and boats, according to Janes, since traveling through the land is considerably more difficult than navigating water or air. Vehicles, unlike ships, must deal with “holes in the road” and know just how much force to use to overcome a physical barrier, according to the research.

Concerns have also been expressed about self-driving car technology. Tesla, among other businesses, has been linked to a number of tragic incidents, including one in Arizona in 2018 in which a lady was struck by a car that was on autopilot.

The Israeli drone vehicle will be on display at London’s Defense and Security System International weapons exhibition this week.

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