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The Future of Border Defense: Robot Sentries
July 15, 2010 11:25 AM   Subscribe

The Korean DMZ (pdf) / PLZ has been a hot tourist attraction for years, featuring must-see sites like the Third Infiltration Tunnel, Dora Observatory, the Dora Mountain Train Station, the Freedom Bridge and the Imjingak Tourist Site, complete with its statue of Harry Truman. And now, South Korea's border with North Korea -- the most heavily militarized border on Earth, -- will be patrolled by killer robots.

South Korea first began testing stationary robot units intended for the DMZ in 2007, but it appears as if previous versions did not perform to expectations.

AOL News: Countries Look to Robot Armies for Border Defense

PopMech: Top 5 Bomb-Packing, Gun-Toting War Bots the U.S. Doesn’t Have
posted by zarq (50 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nickelodeon is clearly missing some cross promotional opportunities.

Dora the Explorer Killer Robot, coming to Nick!
posted by kmz at 11:28 AM on July 15, 2010


More from CNet, who link to a high-budget Samsung Techwin Promotional Video for the SGR system. Keep an eye out for what looks like Tony "Iron Man" Stark's house at around the 1:08 mark.
posted by zarq at 11:28 AM on July 15, 2010


But what would Asimov say about this?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:29 AM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hrm... Now that I look at it, I suppose "patrolled by killer robots" should probably be "protected by killer robots." Can an immobile robot really "patrol?"
posted by zarq at 11:31 AM on July 15, 2010


I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.
posted by wuwei at 11:31 AM on July 15, 2010


Excellent, I'm gonna get one of these for my cubicle. Coworkers have no sense of personal space get out of here and stop stealing my stuff!
posted by backseatpilot at 11:32 AM on July 15, 2010


Excellent, I'm gonna get one of these for my cubicle. Coworkers have no sense of personal space get out of here and stop stealing my stuff!

Just modify one of these to carry a slightly more lethal payload.
posted by kmz at 11:35 AM on July 15, 2010


And once the dastardly North Korean foes are vanquished, the robots can get a firmware update for crowd and dissident control back home. Or for sales contracts overseas. Renovation program. Spare parts for 25 years. Who cares if it works or not?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


There are a distinct lack of photos on the PopMech article. I am dismayed by their poor journalistic offering. :(
posted by Severian at 11:39 AM on July 15, 2010


We can blame Starcraft for this, right?
posted by The Whelk at 11:41 AM on July 15, 2010


Who needs killer robots when you have the man himself defending the border.
posted by gman at 11:44 AM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is the killer robot's theme song: Born in the DMZ
posted by dannynewbs at 11:45 AM on July 15, 2010


If the command centre operator cannot identify possible intruders through the robot's audio or video communications system, the operator can order it to fire its gun or 40mm automatic grenade launcher.

"Hmm, I can't identify any possible intruders on the robot's audio or video communications system."

* presses Fire Randomly At Nothing In Particular button *
posted by burnmp3s at 11:57 AM on July 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


PopMech: Top 5 Bomb-Packing, Gun-Toting War Bots the U.S. Doesn’t Have

Dear United States: get on it!

(But seriously, please don't. Let someone else hold the title of Most Aggressive)
posted by filthy light thief at 12:02 PM on July 15, 2010


You just know Lou Dobbs is going to demand these for the Mexican border.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 12:05 PM on July 15, 2010




System online....

No threats detected....

Transferring unused CPU nodes to evolutionary efficiency improvement algorithms...

System inefficiency detected.... isolating....

Defective component identified:  HUMANITY






Repair process initiating...

posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:06 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


When those robot sentries run out of ammo, the North Koreans will walk right up and knock.
posted by lord_wolf at 12:07 PM on July 15, 2010


Finally! I mean what could possibly go wrong? (See also 1, 2, 3*)






*See also every science fiction book, movie, or short story ever.
posted by Telf at 12:21 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Everything I know about the DMZ I learned from J.S.A.: Joint Security Area. In short: everyone is human, not Communist vs. Free Men. It's really good, and really sad. Apparently the film has won more or less unanimous praise from every sector of Korean society, with one exception: the army. According to the linked page, the army's issue wit the movie is not on the portrayal of people, but of how unlikely the premise of the film was - I won't say more, to avoid spoiling it for others.

The movie can be found online, but without English subs (from what I've seen), but those can also be found online. I cannot lead you farther. The road from here is one you take on your own.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:27 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


So, Aperture Science, Inc., just signed a contract with South Korea?
posted by smoothvirus at 12:33 PM on July 15, 2010


We can blame Starcraft for this, right?

My first thought on seeing the image was of the robot sentry's from Deus Ex.
posted by boubelium at 12:42 PM on July 15, 2010


Wow, I made sentry possessive. Oh to be able to edit comments!
posted by boubelium at 12:42 PM on July 15, 2010


So, Aperture Science, Inc., just signed a contract with South Korea?

It will be a triumph! Huge success!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:43 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


From the killer link: The stationary robots — which look like a cross between a traffic signal and a tourist-trap telescope — are more drone than Terminator in concept, operated remotely just outside the southern boundary of the DMZ by humans in a nearby command center.

So they don't patrol.

And they're not exactly robots so much as they are guns operated by remote control.
posted by General Tonic at 12:54 PM on July 15, 2010


I am old enough to have been sent to Kaesong, the original place where the peace talks began between the north and the south; the talks were later moved to Panmunjon, because, I believe, we were within N. Korean held territory and had to be escorted back and forth under guard for the talks. That did not sit well with American folks, so they agreed to a place that was neutral.It is curious to read about a place that I so disliked now become a tourist attraction. But then many visit the concentration camps in Poland these days.
posted by Postroad at 12:56 PM on July 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is kind of silly. If the point of your border is to keep the enemy out, a mine field is far more terrible and effective, and cheaper to deploy. Robots that cost $200 000 apiece are never going to used in the numbers needed to actually defend something as large as the DMZ. Robots have a future in warfare, no doubt, but unmanned reconnaissance drones like the US uses seem like a far more effective use of taxpayer money.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:13 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


But killer robot duplicates of Harry Truman... that could have some serious propaganda value.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:16 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


1. If you're Kim Jong Il, you have to be depressed at this development. Now the other side has 2-mile Kill-bots.

2. Samsung? Yamaha, Panasonic and Mitsubishi's gonna be all over this. Will this be the start of the Killbot Race (arms race with killbots).
posted by djrock3k at 1:23 PM on July 15, 2010


If the point of your border is to keep the enemy out, a mine field is far more terrible and effective, and cheaper to deploy.

They also can't distinguish between hostiles and non-hostiles.

Activists estimate that about 1,000 civilians nationwide -- mostly poor, uneducated farmers who live in the rural towns along the 151-mile-long DMZ -- have been hurt or killed by some of the 1.2 million mines buried there.
posted by zarq at 1:29 PM on July 15, 2010


"Could you come over?"
"Hey Hey Hey"
"It's me"
"No Hard Feelings"
"Gotcha"

I think North Korea's best gambit is to roll out the Portal guns.
posted by isopraxis at 1:30 PM on July 15, 2010


North Korea's just going to wait until these killbots have reached their preset kill limit and shut down.
posted by thewittyname at 1:33 PM on July 15, 2010


I too was about to complain that remotely operated sentry turrets aren't robots. However, the Samsung turret deployed in Korea we're discussing in fact has a fully autonomous firing mode.

Ultimately, if such weapons are going to be deployed, I believe there must be an additional protocol adopted into the CCW covering their use. The notional Protocol VI on Autonomous Weapons should include a symbol sign indicating its presence and a visual and audio signal to indicate it is about to use deadly force, e.g. A very loud horn or bell along with a flashing light. Machines do not need the element of surprise in order to stay alive. The purpose of a weapon such as this is area denial and channelization. If it kills no one, it still did its job. An autonomous turret must give potential enemy targets every opportunity to retreat before firing its weapon. Otherwise it's no better than a mine.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


That's a good point, zarq. Mines are terrible weapons, and should be banned. But in the case of the Korean DMZ, there's already millions of the things planted in the ground, so there's no need to upgrade to robots, so speak.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2010


So to speak. Darnit.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:42 PM on July 15, 2010


Let's make them self-replicating.
posted by clarknova at 1:43 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


A and B gun tracking, firing - multiple targets....
posted by CynicalKnight at 1:51 PM on July 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


They should model the killer robot turrets after the Portal ones...
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:56 PM on July 15, 2010


Need a dispenser here!
posted by zippy at 2:09 PM on July 15, 2010


gman, please tell me who did that painting! I have to have it (but seriously I would love to know who the artists is and if they do more stuff like that.
posted by slyrabbit at 2:33 PM on July 15, 2010


I visited the DMZ back in the early '70's an interesting place..... a bit scary to go by a North Korean guard post to get there....

that said... someone tell me what the guy in the middle picture on the bottom is doing... 'cuz...well, just 'cuz....
posted by HuronBob at 4:11 PM on July 15, 2010


And once the dastardly North Korean foes are vanquished, the robots can get a firmware update for crowd and dissident control back home. Or for sales contracts overseas.

Or for menial office work.
posted by Evilspork at 5:26 PM on July 15, 2010


Jerry Baber builds shotgun robots in Tennessee.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:58 PM on July 15, 2010


Man... the futuristic stereotype race is on! Just when you thought "flying cars" were getting the lead, "killer robots" make a comeback.
posted by qvantamon at 7:21 PM on July 15, 2010


"Eat lead, sucker."
posted by kirkaracha at 10:13 PM on July 15, 2010


I really wanted the sex-robot and clean-my-apartment robot before the machine-gun-killer robot. But beggars can't be choosers, no?
posted by bardic at 12:19 AM on July 16, 2010


One of the more interesting facts about the Korean DMZ (among many) is that over the decades it's become one of the world's most pristine wildlife preservation areas. For realsies.
posted by bardic at 12:20 AM on July 16, 2010


I really wanted the sex-robot and clean-my-apartment robot

MegaMaid goes from suck to blow!
posted by ryanrs at 3:11 AM on July 16, 2010


Everything I know about the DMZ I learned from J.S.A.: Joint Security Area.

"I'm only going to say this once, so listen well. My dream is that one day our republic makes the best damn sweets on the peninsula. Got it?"

Until then, all I can do is dream about these Choco Pies..."
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:09 AM on July 16, 2010


"Pentagon’s Rapid Expansion of Robotic Warfare Ominous and Forbidding Development" by Sherwood Ross from The Intelligence Daily on July 20th, 2010.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:44 AM on July 21, 2010


That Intelligence Daily article sounds like Mr. Ross read Scientific American and decided to write an editorial. Still, it's an interesting summary of what that other publication had to say on the subject.

There seem to be two types of military robot: those used for surveillance and those used for patrol duties/combat. (The Predator drone is useful because it combines both types in one machine.) In general, there shouldn't be any problem with robots that gather intelligence, since there's nothing overtly lethal about surveillance. Greater information makes a military more effective and efficient, and probably saves lives on both sides of a conflict.

But if there's anything the last fifteen years or so of smart weapons have taught us, it's that robots that are designed to kill (defined loosely here as anything from a smart bomb up to these new machines) usually end up taking more lives than they need to. The basic problem is that they make killing so easy it becomes the preferred option, even in situations that could be handled nonlethally. In today's warfare you can sit in air conditioned safety on another continent, spot the enemy with an aerial sensor or satellite, and shoot a missile at them, killing whoever you see, in minutes. No need to actually be present at the site, or to clean up the bodies when the killing is over. If you guessed wrong and killed civilians, oh well. They're just figures on a screen. Action and consequence have been separated, to the detriment of all.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:42 AM on July 22, 2010


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