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Robots could soon make up a quarter of U.K. army, top general suggests

The British army could soon include a huge number of robots to help the country fight its battles.

While battalions are unlikely to feature a cavalry of autonomous gun-toting androids that look as if they’ve just broken free from a sci-fi movie set, an array of robots large and small could be incorporated into the army to help it with various operations on the battlefield.

In comments on Sky News reported by the Guardian on Sunday, November 8, General Sir Nick Carter, chief of the U.K.’s armed forces, said an army that’s “designed for the 2030s” could feature a significant number of autonomous or remotely controlled machines, adding, “I suspect we could have an army of 120,000, of which 30,000 might be robots.”

While technological advances could certainly help to give an army the advantage during a battle with opposing forces, the move toward robot-based warfare also comes as a result of recruitment shortfalls being experienced by the British army, which currently comprises 73,870 personnel, 9,000 short of its target number.

As in the U.S., armed forces in the U.K. are already developing robots to assist human soldiers, with small drones and other remotely controlled vehicle used for reconnaissance missions, among other tasks.

Taking the role of its army robots in a new direction, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) is also developing a gun-equipped hexacopter capable of flying inside buildings and tracking down targets using machine vision. The so-called “i9” flying weapon, which currently exists as a prototype, could be useful in situations where it’s considered too dangerous to send in human soldiers.

Although the drone could potentially incorporate completely autonomous weaponry, the MoD said an i9 gun would only be fired by a soldier operating the machine remotely.

A growing number of armies around the world are already utilizing drones, from larger fixed-wing aircraft that a remote operator can use to launch weapons at nearby targets, to tiny camera-equipped surveillance robots capable of flying over battlefields almost unheard.

This recent Digital Trends article highlights a bunch of other military robots that can be used in different ways that include support roles and eliminating threats.

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