Autonomous drones are becoming a real thing in our world. Sure, there have been remote-controlled drones for a while now- we used to call them RC-Cars and remote-controlled airplanes. Now, as the technology improves, we are seeing remote-controlled vehicles that are capable of making basic, and sometimes complex, decisions on their own without human intervention. Par for the course, I am human after all, we are going to take a look at five of the more scary autonomous drone technology available, or soon to be. Buckle up and get ready to not sleep at night. We kick things off with a murderer.
Cotsbot robot is the killer in question here. The Cotsbot robot has one job, eradicate crown-of-thorns starfish. Currently in testing trials in the Brisbane area, the Cotsbot robot is eradicating starfish that destroy precious Australia coral. A coral reef can easily be thought of as the “rainforest of the sea” where tons of aquatic life live and thrive. The Cotsbot robot has recently entered testing in the Great Barrier Reef.
Why is the Cotsbot robot scary? It has a vision system and can detect a certain type of starfish and can inject them with a lethal formula. Detection of the crown-of-thorns starfish is accomplished by comparing images and videos of coral to its surroundings. Wouldn’t take much to expand this into something more lethal for larger animals.
Cars and Large Trucks Soon to Be Driver-less
I already wrote a bit about autonomous vehicles and several states allowing them (available here). Basically, it is expanding to large trucks that are usually called “bob trucks” or “box trucks” and even semi-trucks (18 wheelers). Daimler, a semi-truck manufacturer has shown off their Freightliner Inspiration Truck on top of the Hoover Dam in Nevada. Nevada is way ahead of other states when it comes to autonomous vehicles on their roads. Vehicles that do not require a human driver are in the testing phases elsewhere but Nevada is already assigning special license plates for robot cars.
Why is this scary? Think about it. People are already ignorant on the road when it comes to semi-trucks that are operated by a human driver that is trained to react. Imagine how many accidents may happen when these same ignorant drivers cut off a self-driving semi-truck?
Is that…a Dalek?
Okay, it is not the little autonomous robots from Doctor Who but they sure as hell look a lot like them. The Knightscope Autonomous Data Machine is a security drone that patrols and intercepts crime, hopefully deterring it. The real kicker here is that these Knightscope drones are working to predict crime, then be there first and stop the crime before it happens. Um, yeah. Autonomous Data Machine drones will be able to see, hear, smell and patrol areas to keep people safe within them. This could be a parking garage, a small neighborhood (better have nice sidewalks) a college campus and more.
How is this scary? Um, seriously, you are asking that? In a day and age where vehicles are being hacked and control being taken over, having a drone patrol your neighborhood is no big deal?
Silent Nemo Could Go Looking for Real Nemo, or Not
It is a well-known fact that we know precious little about our oceans, even though they take up the majority of the planet’s surface. The United States Navy are working on correcting that, to an extent, with Silent Nemo- their new submersible autonomous vehicle. They claim Silent Nemo can be used to inspect hulls of ships, traverse dangerous areas in the sea and more. Silent Nemo is capable of operating autonomously or via a tether. Designed to mimic the movements of a large fish, so as to fit in better with the surroundings and be less detectable, Silent Nemo can carry out nefarious “secret” missions according to the Navy (they called it reconnaissance).
Why is this scary? We don’t know much about the oceans already so why not drop in some autonomous vehicles just to spice up what is already out there.
Okay, up till now we have dealt with autonomous drones that are either continually connected to the ground via wheels or are in the water. Now we discuss a four-legged autonomous drone that is, well, scary just to look at. The headless mule is a Darpa creation, Boston Dynamics is another to watch if you are of the tinfoil hat variety. Right now the headless mule can operate for about 24 hours without a human giving orders or being around and can travel for up to 20 miles while hauling about 400 pounds of gear, supplies and more (don’t tell this thing to go play and expect it to stay nearby). The headless mule can accept 10 basic commands (none of which are “stop stomping me to death”). Terrain is not all that much of a concern as the headless mule can operate on more varied terrain than the Knightscope Autonomous Data Machine probably ever will.
Why is this scary? I am not even going to dignify that with a response other than “watch the video”.