Killer robots aren’t quite here yet, but visions of Terminators got a little closer with a new piece of hardware from defense contractor Northrop Grumman.
Making its debut a the “Robotics Rodeo” at Fort Benning, Ga., the Mobile Armed Dismount Support System is a truck-like remote-controlled vehicle that sports a machine gun. It won’t kill people on its own, so there’s no need to worry about one running amok in the neighborhood. In that sense it’s more like the airborne drones than a truly autonomous robot like a Roomba, which can act without direction.
The MADSS is designed to provide covering fire for soldiers in the field. The six-wheeled vehicle can get over terrain that most conventional trucks would have a tough time with, so it can follow soldiers at a short distance and do without roads.
In the demonstration video the MADSS is firing a machine gun, and it can be fitted with a number of different weapons, up to and including grenade launchers.
It isn’t just a terrifying version of a remote-controlled truck, though — the MADSS chassis was designed to carry loads, and it is taken directly from another Northrop-Grumman project, the Carry-all Modular Equipment Landrover, or CaMEL.
It will likely be years before the MADSS is actually deployed, though, given that there is still a lot of testing to be done. Even if it doesn’t actually become a part of regular troop deployment, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the future of warfare.