Innovation

Metal Storm weapon system to be implemented into robot platform

Australia-based Metal Storm has delivered a four-barrel version of a new class of weapon - that uses computer-controlled electronic ignition for firing, to the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

Australia-based Metal Storm has delivered a four-barrel version of a new class of weapon  that uses computer-controlled electronic ignition for firing to the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

If you don't already know (Excerpt from CNET News.com):

Metal Storm weapons use multiple, "lightweight, economical barrels" mounted in pods on a variety of platforms that can fire a wide selection of munitions. The projectiles are stacked in-line in the barrel - nose to tail - so there are no magazines, no shell casings, and no mechanical components.

Because a small electrical current is used for firing instead a conventional firing pin, the stacked rounds can be fired at an astounding rate of up to 1 million rounds per minute. Hence, it is easy to see how the name 'metal storm' pretty much fits the bill here.

Moving on, however, we find a very interesting nugget of information in the same CNET News.com article:

... This makes them ideal for unattended area denial or picket duty. They are also easily adapted to light vehicles and robot platforms. In fact, the company just signed an MOU with iRobot Government & Industrial Robots to combine its robot platforms with Metal Storm's scalable systems.

Metal StormAlready, one version of the metal storm weapon systems, the Redback, features a remotely operated 40mm that can automatically track targets by slewing around at almost 2 complete revolutions per second.

A quick search of YouTube reveals that there are working prototypes of area-denial versions comprising of at least three separate auto-acquisition turrets.

On the robotic end, iRobot makes the Packbot, which is a tough tracked robot that is able to climb stairs, roll over rubble, rocks, mud and snow, using a patented flipper to stay right-side-up.

It was only last month that I wrote a report in IT News Digest titled Robotic anti-aircraft gun goes rogue, killing nine. In that article, I asked whether we are placing too much computer automation into weapons that kill.

I don't know about you, but an out-of-control robot wielding million-rounds-per-minute weapon systems don't particularly appeal to me.

With the above facts in mind, I want to pose the same question to you today: Are we placing too much on computer automation in weapons that kill?

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

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