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Robots Go To War

Techstination feature for Friday, February 25, 2005

Robots go to war. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. The story made headlines in the New York Times not long ago. The Pentagon is predicting robots will be a major fighting force in the American military in less than a decade. One of companies making it happen….is the same one that has sold consumers a million robotic vacuum cleaners over the last couple of years. iRobot makes the Roomba…and also has made some of the first robots being used by the military. In fact, says CEO and co-founder Colin Angle….

"The technology that we develop is transferred down and used on the consumer side. I think it's a little amusing that the coverage algorithms that the Roomba FloorVac uses originated from mine hunting algorithms funded and developed on the military side."

And now the Army is talking about robots that carry weapons. While Angle sees widespread deployment of so called robotic soldiers…he believes humans will maintain control, remotely of the weapons they carry…

"You don't want these robots deciding on their own what they should do because the technology is not there and the moral authority to make those kind of decisions certainly is not there. And yet the robots are effective tools."

That are already saving lives. As far as robots in the home are concerned, iRobot plans to expand beyond vacuuming…later this year. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.