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Robot Warfare Going Open Source

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the my-flag-robot-said-to-your-flag-robot dept.

Robotics 105

destinyland writes "Peter Singer, author of the new book Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century, says 'You can build your own version of the Raven drone, which is a widely used military drone, for about $1,000.' Singer argues that 'just like software, warfare is going open source.' He warns that, ultimately, robot warfare may even expand beyond the military using more DIY and off-the-shelf systems. In addition to 43 countries now working on military robots, there are 'non-state actors ranging from Hezbollah to this militia group in Arizona to a bunch of college kids at Swarthmore... One person's hobby — such as the hobbyist who flew a homemade drone from North America to Great Britain — can be another person's terrorist strike option.'"

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oh cool (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28090801)

oh cool article, i like this a lot.

fp (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28090803)


Asimov (5, Funny)

Afforess (1310263) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090825)

Quick, someone embed the three laws in the linux kernal.

Re:Asimov (1)

spam.gashakura (1562207) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090877)

madarchodon.. chup baithoge?

Re:Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28093283)

Please dont abuse .......if these guys dont understand hindi doesnt mean u can abuse them.

Re:Asimov (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094923)

Don't understand Hindi? Oh, they just pretend not to. Snobs! I know perfectly well that the mother speaks Urdu at home. Feigned non-comprehension of Hindi is pure social posing and low-order chauvinism!

Re:Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091217)

You mean the linux colonel.

Re:Asimov (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28093363)

Please, for the love of God, someone please make the editors stop approving astroturf for the new Terminator movies. The last two weeks have seen wave after wave of "Killer Robotz: When Will They Become Reality? Film at Eleven." It's really old.

FIRST!!! OWNED. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28090829)


Sure you can (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090893)

You can build your own version of the Raven drone, which is a widely used military drone, for about $1,000.

You mean this? Raven Drone [wikipedia.org]. Umm.. maybe you could build the airframe for under $1000.. or at least something that looks like it. I seriously doubt you could get the radio control equipment, let alone the camera or milspec GPS receivers (which cost $10k each and you have to justify why you want them and promise not to export them).

If the book is as accurate as this interview, I think I'll just read fiction.

Re:Sure you can (5, Interesting)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090967)

The submitter assumes that RQ-11B Ravens are simple RC planes. Not quite. They have fully autonomous piloting and navigation features, and include state of the art EQ and IR cameras, and a sophisticated ground system, which includes a CF-19 Toughbook.

I build cameras for RQ-11B Ravens. The L3-Com transmitters and receivers alone cost ~$5k per set (both air and ground Tx and Rx).

And still, assuming you can get those surplus for $5, the custom avionics and firmware in the planes will cost you many k$ in equivalent effort to duplicate.

Re:Sure you can (1, Interesting)

Hairy1 (180056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091137)

Okay, so get a phone like the Neo or gPhone - $400, hook up the Servos via USB and a PhidgetController - $200 - and write some custom Python code to make it all hang together. Put it all in a stock Model airplane - $150 -and you have an autonomous model aircraft. Oh - and the phone means you have GPS and GPRS for navigation and control.

Of course, there are many peaceful purposes for such systems, and it certainly won't carry much of a payload if evil is your objective. And to be honest the evil terrorists seem to do okay with cars and raw explosives. Spending time to make dinky little model planes into weapons doesn't seem high on their to do list.

Of course, using GPRS isn't going to work in the countryside of Iraq. Then you need something better - but $5K is still pretty high end.

Re:Sure you can (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091175)

Umm.. where are you getting this "stock model airplane" for $150... let alone one that can lift a phone. Put down the crack pipe.

Re:Sure you can (1, Interesting)

Hairy1 (180056) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091237)

How about here:
http://www.towerhobbies.com/products/hobbico/hcaa23_n.html [towerhobbies.com]

Oh, and I may not make autonomous planes, but I do make autonomous boats, so this is more than talking out my ass; I've actually built this kind of kit.

Its not like you have an ulterior motive in trying to justify the cost the products your company makes huh. At 25K per plane I would like a bit of that action.

Re:Sure you can (2, Insightful)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091607)

If you don't know the difference between a $150 toy and a $25k mil-spec surveillance uav, how do you manage to scrape up the braincells long enough to even log into slashdot? Look at the model you linked. Top speed somewhere around a slow jog, runtime of (charitably) 15 minutes, and a payload capacity of around an ounce. There's a world of difference between a boat and an airplane, specifically in that your vehicles only have to be watertight and minimally buoyant. Oh, and then there's that thing about boats having only one control surface. It's got to be easy testing your rig when a failure means you go in circles, versus screaming vertically into a smoking pile of rubble.
$25k is probably quite inflated, but most military hardware is. Testing for battlefield ruggedness isn't free, and making something easy enough for a Marine to handle costs a lot. But, I really would like to see your attempt at a self-navigating, gps-equipped, tri-camera (with encrypted feeds over FHSS) sub-six-foot surveillance water- or air-craft that goes 60mph for more than an hour. If you can do it for under $10k, you could probably have your pick of any job you want in the UAV industry.

Or, for the TL;DR crowd: Yes, you ARE talking out of your ass.

Re:Sure you can (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091701)

Look, I know you guys are having fun floppin' it out and having a good ol' measure, but I can see the point that you don't need a whole lot of money to make something that kind of works. I can actually see how for around $1000 it would be possible to build a plane that could be launched and flown manually to around 300m AGL, carry 400g of explosive and another 600g of misc nails and bolts and glide autonomously to 10m above a preprogrammed spot before exploding above a market, for example, or barracks.

It wouldn't have to be military spec. If it crashes along the way, hey just set it up to explode anyway - this obviously is not a precision type project.

I think the summary is a bit confusing in that you have clearly interpreted "build you own version of" as "build something of the same quality as".

BTW, for the record, I would never condone building a device such as mentioned above and people who do are evil shits, no matter what the motive. I am however interested in the subject of automonous aircraft and in particular thoroughly enjoyed reading a link [members.shaw.ca] posted to an earlier story on /. which I share now for your enjoyment and my own karma whoring.

Re:Sure you can (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092007)

Uhm, a remote-controlled flying bomb ain't even close to a surveillance UAV. I suspect you missed the point by, oh, a LOT. And yes, I already have a plane that can manage a few hundred meters altitude. Rigging it to explode would be trivial.

But for $1000, you can have one hell of a claymore if you give up the Tom Clancy plot. Just have someone carry a briefcase somewhere and leave it.

Re:Sure you can (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093267)

if you watch the news it is still easier to find somebody to bring the briefcase with explosives (or a truck of it for a good measure) and engage the ignition than to build and operate the drone.

Could this mean that Hezbollah is losing the war over souls or are t he drones not infallible enough?

Re:Sure you can (2, Insightful)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094287)

Yeah and there's quite a few differences between a SUN enterprise server and a bunch of PCs clustered together, but for a surprisingly large number of jobs they'll both work quite well. Realizing that too late to be meaningful cost SUN it's independence.

Re:Sure you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28094663)

Do you moon light as Bad Analogy Guy?

Re:Sure you can (3, Interesting)

hughk (248126) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092683)

This article [bbc.co.uk] discusses bunch of Brazilians have been caught using an expensive ($1K), but still hobbyist, stripped down r/c helicopter to airlift 9 mobile phones to prison inmates. I was also very surprised as I thought the payload, particularly on amateur planes/copters usually wasn't worth a damn. There is a photo of the helicopter and the bodywork has been removed, presumeably to reduce the weight.

Re:Sure you can (1)

Beezlebub33 (1220368) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094877)

Mobile phones are incredibly valuable to prison inmates, more so than drugs. Cell phones can quite light as well, so this is a good use of the technology --> trying to get something light to someplace difficult to get into by land.

The same applies to other missions as well. A lb of explosives in the right (or wrong) place can be worth a lot.

Re:Sure you can (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#28097557)

A lb of explosives in the right (or wrong) place can be worth a lot.

Or a kilo or 3 of heroin...

Re:Sure you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091325)

L3-Com transmitters and receivers alone cost ~$5k per set

Yes, great. I've worked for defense and it's contractors and your argument is a lot less exciting when everybody knows that making defense products has the highest profit margins and so thrives upon our soldiers' deaths.

Remember the Reagan-era propaganda with $640 toilet seats? [worldnetdaily.com] The question is, if you didn't grow up in the Reagan era(well, even if you did), why are you drinking that kool-aid? Greedy bastard. Enjoy your blood money.

Re:Sure you can (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091359)

So... $1k worth of parts, $19k markup, and at least $40k effort to create the software.

Yep, that's a $1000 UAV! :P

Re:Sure you can (1)

Puls4r (724907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093215)

It's funny how people say it can't be done - I'd guess they're people who haven't innovated much in their lifetime.

How about an Iriduim satelite phone as the communication device? Last time I checked sending data over those is pretty easy.

After all, you're not flying the plane real time. That's all programmed into the pic microcontroller. You're just sending it waypoints.

GPS? Most GPS units send out simple NMEA data that directly interfaces to a computer port. So I take 2 GPS units. Perhaps in something as small and light as a cellphone. (Do newer Iridium phones have GPS now too? I don't know....). There's probably already and iphone app to do it....

This isn't nearly as hard as people think it is. Hell, I compete yearly in FIRST (www.usfirst.org), and they use gyroscopes, digital compasses, (ducted fans this year), plus cheap PIC microcontrollers that could easily handle this sort of thing. That's just a highschool competition.

In fact, TARDEC sponsors FIRST teams.......

Re:Sure you can (1)

bughunter (10093) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094519)

No one's saying it can't be done. Everyone with a clue says it takes more than $1000.

Hint: it takes more than a few lines of python running on a cellphone to instantiate a Kalman Filter that's been fine-tuned and HITL-tested.

Re:Sure you can (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28097489)

Everyone is overlooking the obvious-

Have the Ravens assembled by robots.

Onward Buddhist Soldier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091131)

With some thought, open-source fans could probably design an amphibious robot armed with nuclear-powered lasers. Imagine the following scenario.

In the early morning of 2014 December 7, one million mechanized soldiers ascend from the receding tide and onto the shores of China. The robots march relentlessly westward, killing all Chinese in their path.

The final destination is Tibet.

In the words of that old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! Buddha, Almighty! Free at last!".

Re:Onward Buddhist Soldier (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091273)

There won't be a 2014, moron! Haven't you heard that the world's gonna end in 2012? Geez, buy a friggin Myan calenar, n00b.

Re:Onward Buddhist Soldier (5, Funny)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091329)

Who would buy a 5,000 year calendar if it's only got 3 years left in it? That's such a waste of money. I'll wait and buy the 2012-7138 version.

Re:Sure you can (2, Informative)

hughk (248126) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092879)

Funnily enough, you can get some not-quite milspec stuff from these people [sparkfun.com] and they specialise in things like miniature GPS receivers and 3 axis accelerometers. It might not handle the deserts or the tundra but will handle normal conditions without problems. There are even projects that use these for autopilots for model sailplanes and airplanes. Sure the GPS receiver in the Raven may have better interference rejection and be able to use the military GPS channel, but for accuracy you can always use DGPS relative to your base and for interference rejection, upwards facing antennas help a lot.

Re:Sure you can (1)

WorkingDead (1393377) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093813)

This kind of technology, though not as polished is becoming available to the masses. Here is a good example - http://diydrones.com/ [diydrones.com]

Simple open source auto pilots are now available, low cost GPS systems are available, RC air components are readily available. The point is that even the simple systems that are currently available wouldn't need much tweaking for use in some sinister way.

Re: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28096171)

The book is supposed to be really good. The author has published a video on TED.com (an excellent source for the inquiring mind - lectures by scientists)

This should have been included in the article:


GO TO TED.COM and open your mind!!

No need for mil-spec GPS (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 4 years ago | (#28098109)

If you want just to build an autonomous airplane model, you don't need military-grade GPS.

Civilian GPS receivers have hard limits to avoid being used in DIY missile guidance systems. They refuse to output a reliable answer when simultaneously above a certain altitude AND above a certain speed threshold.

Since you're not going to hit both of these limits with an air plane model, the commercial GPS are going to be enough.

Also I have a couple of friends who had very good success while recording movies from their (radio-controlled, not autonomous) using dead cheap webcams.

Similar creation (autonomous plane model with GPS and Camera) has already been done in the past, and even mentioned on /. (Can't manage to find the link. Was a balloon-started autonomous glider, with a radio-link to transmit pictures to DOS powered laptop)

Re:Sure you can (1)

zlite (199781) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101313)

Singer is referring to our site, DIYDrones.com, where we've open sourced the technology to make a sub-$1,000 UAV. Unfortunately, Singer is totally clueless about technology, so he doesn't know the difference between our relatively modest UAVs and a Raven.

So what's really new? (0)

jasonmanley (921037) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090915)

Just so I understand, hasn't anyone been able to buy / build a model aeroplane for the past few decades and possibly attach a camera or weapons to it? The only difference now is that they can go a little further - I guess.

Oh no! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28090925)

If somebody makes a killbot without a pre-programmed kill limit then how will we ever defeat them?

Re:Oh no! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28097915)

The same way we always have--by sending waves and waves of our men at them. It's the only logical way.

Robot Wars and the Three Laws (-1)

biocute (936687) | more than 4 years ago | (#28090953)

What's the point of fighting wars with robots if they are to follow the three laws?

I mean, how is a battle won and how does a war end?

If you can win by destroying enough robots, countries might as well just play a game of C&C to determine the outcome.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091061)

I can't believe people can actually ask these questions with a straight face. It's like we've all forgotten how a military dictatorship works.

Ya don't invade your neighboring country to kill everyone (ok, maybe you do if you're in Africa).. you invade your neighboring country to dominate them, remove their ability to fight back, then take control of their government and their media and rule them. That's why, in this day and age, the first thing to go in a war would be access to the Internet. If you can control everything a dominated people see and hear then you can easily convince them that they are better off following you than fighting you. When dissenting opinions are quashed the masses quickly fall into line.

So what are wars about? They're about stopping an invader from controlling the information. Even in our highly digital world you still need to have physical dominance over a country to maintain that kind of control. If people can freely travel across borders then they can bring with them information which you can't control. So you build a wall.. and put guards on it to shoot anyone who tries to cross without your permission. You build an air force and shoot down any planes that try to come into your airspace. Same for a navy and the coastline.

Wars are not "competitions". You don't send your most strapping men to kill their most strapping men, in the snappiest uniforms you can design, and then do a body count to determine the winner. You win by controlling the terms that everyone uses to refer to what happened. The war isn't over when everyone stops fighting. If you are seen as a "liberator" who is now fighting "insurgents" then the war is over.. you won.

War is ugly. It's the ugliest thing there is. Cause it's not about killing them.. it's about forcing your point of view down their throat.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091191)

I think you're talking about Cyber Warfare, which I agree is a great way to end a war.

However the article here is about Robot Warfare, mostly unmanned machines engaging in battles.

My question is still the same -- If we want safety of the Three Laws, how do we, in your word, dominate the enemy with these robots?

You can have Ravens flying overhead all day, but if it's not going to destroy lives, it can hardly achieve anything, it can't even destroy buildings with lives in them.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091381)

Yes, I ignored your 3 laws question.. sorry. I thought it was too silly to warrant a response. Obviously no-one who makes armed robots for warfare is going to make them 3 laws safe (quite apart from the fact that it was a literary device, sheesh).

It's simple, as robot technology matures, armed robots will appear on the battlefield.. they will be programmed to determine friend from foe and carry out specific missions. Maybe it will indeed be like playing a game of C&C.. but that's irrelevant.. you asked what the point was of that. I told you what the point is; specifically, you use your robot army to kill their robot army, and then their regular army, then anyone that resists, so the people who are cowering in fear will believe what you tell them.

This isn't some new "Cyber Warfare" idea. This is what wars are about, it's what they've always been about.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

Inverted Intellect (950622) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091403)

Read again. He's not talking about electronic warfare. He's talking about good old-fashioned crushing military dictatorship.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091741)

The war isn't over when everyone stops fighting. If you are seen as a "liberator" who is now fighting "insurgents" then the war is over.. you won.

So how come the West lost in Iraq?

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

BobisOnlyBob (1438553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093281)

Because very few genuinely believed we were "liberating" them. And those who did still complain about the time it's taken, the costs, the death...

We "Won" in that we achieved what the politicians and string-pullers set out to do. We "Lost" because it cost too much over too long, in both material assets and human lives.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28093295)

Really? The west lost in Iraq? When did that happen? I hadn't realized that the insurgents had control of the government, means of production and distribution. I also hadn't realized that the US military (and lets face it, they are really the only nation with a fighting force still there) couldn't bring in more material and armed troops to just about any where in the nation. I must be really behind in my news.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 4 years ago | (#28101447)

"Winning" and "losing" are pretty ill-defined and subjective terms.

We "won" in the sense that we kicked out the old regime and replaced it with one of our choice. We "lost" in that there was a large insurgency and civil war which essentially ended up settling itself, determining the state of the country going forward. We also "won" in that we now have strategic influence over an important Middle Eastern state, and also "lost" in that it was at a rather horrific civilian death toll and level of collateral damage.

When you ask someone if you "won or lost", it depends entirely on the criteria used to judge.

FYI, I use "we" in the loosest possible sense here as I have absolutely no involvement in the war one way or the other, and did not support it.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091759)

You're kind of an idiot, aren't you. What does anyone have to gain by 'ruling' but a headache. Wars are about many more things than whether coke is better than pepsi. Why don't you review some wars for us and tell us exactly what points of view were being forced. If you intend to paint wars fought for 'freedom' as if freedom were a mere point of view, then you really are an idiot.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (2, Informative)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092073)

So...the Soviets defeated the Nazis by controlling the semiotics of the situation? Napoleon won because he could control what the Austrian press told its readers? Come on man, that stuff doesn't fly in the real world.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092149)

The Nazis invaded their neighbors to reform the greater Germany. The ideology was simply that all these neighboring countries are full of Germans who are suffering under the tyranny of non-German governments. If you'd studied history at all you'd know that. If the people inside these countries had thought of the Nazis the same way the allies did, the war would have been over pretty quickly (btw, it wasn't). "The resistance" wasn't a lot of people.. it wasn't the majority.. it was a small bunch of rebels. If Germany had won the war you'd be referring to them as terrorists.

And lets not forget (3, Informative)

Aceticon (140883) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092507)

Lets not forget the other common reason to go to war:

- Being faced with internal dissent and a real possibility of loosing power, portray another nation (or even a minority within your own nation) as "the Enemy" and go to war against them, thus distracting the masses from your own faults as leader, rallying them against somebody else and having a convenient excuse to take on "state of emergency"-like powers which then can be use against your personal internal enemies.

This technique is as widely used in tin-pot-dictatorships as in "democracies" *cough* war on terror *cough*

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28092817)

wrong. you kill people until the remaining ones are too scared to fight back or happy with the status quo.

the bush era is over, return under the rock you lived before with your delusion of a clean war for the control of the information

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092997)

umm.. I believe I said exactly that. And went on to say how terrible war is. Check your reading comprehension, it's down.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091079)

the war ends with the victor robots causing horrific casualties among the civilian populations on the other side.
c&c wont result in mass civilian casualties or the resulting end to the war.

How to fight a war against robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28092875)

I came across this [wordpress.com] the other day on stumbleupon, makes for interesting reading. I think the author is overplaying a fair bit (and the site itself has a horrible color scheme to see the links), but it is filled with some wikipedia articles I'd never seen before and some really interesting discussion about how humans would fight against a Skynet scenario.

Re:Robot Wars and the Three Laws (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 4 years ago | (#28095221)

What's the point of fighting wars with robots if they are to follow the three laws?

I wish like hell people would actually read his books before they quote them. If you had actually read his books you wouldn't be asking the question in the first place. The entire point of his books are how flawed and ambiguous those three laws are. In short, anyone intending to create robots which are governed by Asimov's three laws of robots are either stupid - or well - stupid.

Hold up a second! (1)

Tigersmind (1549183) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091057)

Earlier we was all freaked about a guy wanting to make a UAV for pictures and now we need to code the 3 laws in the Linux Kernel?

I just cant keep up with this place, I swear....

Observation UAV. Explosives NZ cruise missile (1)

Ocker3 (1232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091075)

http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/06/04/1054406219113.html [theage.com.au] I saw a doco on this guy, last I heard he was about to be buried by the NZ Gov at the request (insistence?) of the US Gov. Poor bastard, you'd think some defence contractor would recruit him and have him build them low-cost rockets to sell to Pakistan or something.

Re:Observation UAV. Explosives NZ cruise missile (1)

twosat (1414337) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092239)

He still seems to be around since he is still blogging on his website www.aardvark.co.nz

!gonnahappen? (5, Insightful)

i-like-burritos (1532531) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091105)

why is this tagged !gonnahappen?
The "open source" part is a little silly, but the "anybody can use technology in inovative ways to harm others" part is very reasonable

Seriously. Think about any world leader/other person in the world. If you didn't care about getting caught, don't you think you could engineer something to make them wind up dead?
given the resources available today (especially the internet), it's not that far-fetched

Re:!gonnahappen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28091783)

[...] Seriously. [...]

[...] especially the internet [...]


No DIY-kit list (2, Insightful)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091229)

Just great, who wants to bet that the DHS will make a "No buying aerial plane kits" because they can be "terror weapons"? And of course everyone will have to register their model airplanes. And consent to a search of their home if they own one.

Where's the V-1? (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091249)

I read that book. I think it was even reviewed on Slashdot already.

One thing that's surprised me is that nobody in the Third World has built something like a V-1 "buzz bomb". That's WWII technology, and it was a low-end technology back then, built from sheet metal. Just duplicating the V-1, adding a JATO bottle so you can use a short portable launch ramp, and adding a half-decent autopilot would provide a precision cruise missile capability at a low price. A low-end GPS plus a backup capability to revert to compass and time in case of jamming would work.

Most of them will get through, especially if they each take different routes. The original V-1s flew in a straight line from launch site to target, the launch sites were fixed, and the target was usually London, so shooting them down wasn't hard. It took thousands of anti-aircraft guns, though. Who deploys thousands of anti-aircraft guns any more?

Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091337)

Many of the later intercepts were done by vectoring fighters into the V-1 flight paths and simply shooting them down like any other plane. And "thousands of anti-aircraft guns" were only used because at that point in time we didn't have ground-to-air missile capabilities. Which we now do.

Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 4 years ago | (#28098533)

Several thousand dollar missile against a flying bomb with a cheap GPS and sheet metal wings? That's not terribly cost effective. Couldn't they just, like, make us go for broke by swarming?

Re:Where's the V-1? (2, Informative)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091355)

One thing that's surprised me is that nobody in the Third World has built something like a V-1 "buzz bomb". That's WWII technology, and it was a low-end technology back then, built from sheet metal. Just duplicating the V-1, adding a JATO bottle so you can use a short portable launch ramp, and adding a half-decent autopilot would provide a precision cruise missile capability at a low price. A low-end GPS plus a backup capability to revert to compass and time in case of jamming would work.

If they want a V1, why not just buy one ready made from N.Korea, Egypt, Syria, [wikipedia.org] etc.?

Of course, for the price of one of those they can buy an awful lot of fertilizer and diesel fuel [wikipedia.org].

Re:Where's the V-1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28092675)

From the Wikipedia Link [wikipedia.org]

"ANNM is also more sensitive to shock than standard ANFO and so is easier to detonate which along with its power makes it a popular explosive among recreational users."

And I thought, coming home and blowing stuff up was for gamers and southerners only...

Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 4 years ago | (#28097825)

If they want a V1, why not just buy one ready made from N.Korea, Egypt, Syria, etc.?

SCUDs are upscaled & reworked V2s, not V1s. The V1 was the 'buzz bomb', using a pulse jet, basically a flying stovepipe. It used regular kerosene and atmospheric oxygen. The V2 was a true rocket design, the first deployed ballistic missile.

I do find it interesting however that the US attacked Iraq the moment it became clear that the aluminum tubes reputedly ordered for use as a gaseous seperator for uranium refining turned out to be perfect for the fuselage of an upgraded SCUD with enough range that, in a high west-blowing wind, could possibly land inside Israel. Almost enough to make you think of upgrading your tinfoil hat, eh?

A: in a field outside of london, rusting. (1)

TiggertheMad (556308) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091615)

That's WWII technology

...that was used exclusively by probably the most technologically advanced country at the time, where it had a cadre of top notch scientists to design the weapons and the resources of a nation to build and launch them in sufficient numbers to get noticed.

We have come a long way in the past 60 years, but building rockets is still, well, rocket science. Why bother when you can strap 20 pounds of explosives to a zealous follower and buy em' a bus ticket?

Re:Where's the V-1? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28093089)

Mainly because "people in the 3rd World" are mostly interested in getting food in proper amount and decent education for their children.

If you live in a place were tap water is a luxury it's hard to build a cruise missile, even from 60 years ago. And you don't really care anyway.

And leaders in the 3rd World are mostly interested in pillaging the nation's wealth for their personal fortune. They usually take very little risk to attract the international community.

Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093971)

No one builds V-1's because of a few things:

1. It's out of fashion.
2. To build one you need to do some homework on mechanics, aerodynamics and engines.
3. If you know all this, you would probably spend your knowledge on something more useful for society.
4. No wonder that the large part of terrorists come from humanitarian fields. They don't have to consider the "price" of putting all their knowledge on building bombs to kill people.
5. High-tech isn't really the thing terrorists and rogues aim for. In most cases, quite the contrary - no TV, no radio, no photos, no Internet.

Under these conditions, it is no wonder that these guys cannot build even reasonable good bombs or other weapons. Has anyone ever seen a "home-made" terrorist automatic gun? What talk can be about V-1?

Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094365)

Who deploys thousands of anti-aircraft guns any more?


Re:Where's the V-1? (1)

Ektanoor (9949) | more than 4 years ago | (#28094749)

Yes, but they seem of little effect to those palestinian rockets from Gaza, btw.

Besides. Building today a V-1 would surely no stop by copying it. Probably someone would make some efforts to use some modern stuff, new radios, a camera. Anyway, the probability that some smart guy would do it in the middle of the desert is stupidly minimal. Even the palestinian Kasav's (just don't remember the correct name right now) seem to have developed from a "ready" design and suffered too little evolution in time.

It's a big expense to build weapons, more, to maintain them. Just think, You have a big problem with your neighbor. To give him a lesson, you may build 10000 all-weather super-drones, full of plastic badabum. Now you use one. The other guy gets it over its head and curses you to Hell. Next day, his yard is full of all sort of anti-aircraft paraphernalia, Your drone is shot just after lift-off. What to do? You still have 9999 drones, now completely useless if you don't make a way to overcome his defenses.

So, things are not simply - "you can build it". In military terms, you have also to hold it.

Obvious (1)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091289)

Whether or not you believe in this "singularity" stuff, it's obvious that the progress of technology in general constantly makes building improvised weapons like this (and weapons in general) easier. It also makes defending against such threats easier, but it'll always be more expensive to defend than attack (especially if we want to protect things which we currently feel are basic rights like freedom of expression and privacy).

I hope we don't get to the point where random people in NZ [theage.com.au] (link copied from another post [slashdot.org]) can build WMDs from parts ordered over the Internet quicker than humanity manages to prove that intelligence is useful for long-term species survival.

NRA - National *Robot* Assiciation (2, Interesting)

nausea_malvarma (1544887) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091349)

If personal military robots are the wave of the future, what will this mean for 2nd amendment issues? Will there be a movement to protect a citizen's right to run their own robot militias?

Re:NRA - National *Robot* Assiciation (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28093535)

Better yet, when robots go skynet will they demand their second amendment rights to weapons?

Attention, attention... (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091415)

Your kilo of Purple Shishkaberry will be making its final approach to your back yard in approximately 3 minutes. Please ensure that no cats, dogs, children or uniformed officials are blocking the runway. Thank you for choosing Aer Lungus, the micro-airline that gets you high by getting your cargo high. Please remember that we offer a volume discount for frequent fliers.

When you think (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 4 years ago | (#28091551)

When you think of the money and time we're pouring into ways to kill folks off, and compare that to what it'd cost to relieve poverty and chaos, it's just tragic.

No such thing is happening! (1)

janwedekind (778872) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092839)

Robot warfare is not going Open Source! If you want to take out somebody remotely, it is sufficient to build a torpedo, a guided missile, or a mine [textrondefense.com].
Anybody remember Bruce Simpson's DIY cruise missile [interestingprojects.com]? Bruce Simpson has shown that you can build all of this using standard components of today.

I hope the government will not severely restrict science in this area as well (just think about what happened to nuclear research). The path to industrial automation and robotics already has enough hurdles (proprietary software, patented standards and machines, vendor lock-in, lack of integration, weak theoretical foundation, ...).

Why build one, when you can crack one? (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28092913)

It will be a great time, when the average 15 year old cracker noob can crack a whole army of bots, and turn them against their master. It's no longer a powerful government against a helpless you. Power becomes equalized. You do not need big money or big industries, to get big power anymore. You only need brains. Lotsa lotsa brains! ^^
And don't think any military leader acts any wiser than those 15 year olds would. ^^

TAM 5 and 6 (1)

hovercycle (1118435) | more than 4 years ago | (#28096423)

I've seen the TAM (Trans-Atlantic-Model), I've seen the CCCongress's lecture on paparazzi. I would also have to conclude that if someone has a couple thousand dollars and the time, that you could build a cruise missile. Don't lie to yourselves, If I wanted to bomb Japan for shutting down my factory here in the states, I probably could do it. And that dumb ass N.Korean president is throwing so much effort into that nuke program... How sad. "Yay, I'm going to be a mass murderer."
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