Russia Deploys Armed Robots to Guard Missile Bases

Almost certainly not the same kind of robot Russia has deployed to guard its missile bases.

Almost certainly not the same kind of robot Russia has deployed to guard its missile bases.

Russia plans to deploy robots to protect its strategic missile facilities later this year, according to a report in the semi-official news site RIA Novosti.

The Russian Ministry of Defense is upgrading the automated security systems protecting ballistic-missile launch sites around the country, according to a Defense Ministry spokesperson quoted by the news site.

Among the upgrades will be a cadre of mobile security robots that will be deployed to five launch sites, where they will beef up the facilities’ guard staff by going on patrol as well as providing mobile video reconnaissance using on-board cameras and wireless network connections.

The robots are also armed and capable of taking on either bombs or attackers directly, presumably via remote-control rather than autonomous decisionmaking.

The experimental robots, which will deploy this month, were designed “for army reconnaissance, spotting and destroying stationary and moving targets, fire support of military units, patrolling and protection of important facilities in automated (engineering technical devices) security systems,” according to defense ministry spokesperson Maj. Dmitry Andreyev, quoted in the official ITAR-TASS news service.

The robots are equipped with night-vision cameras and radar and are able to select and fire on targets automatically.

RIA Novosti reported in April that Russia’s defense ministry had launched a “battlefield robot” project to upgrade its drones and robotic ground vehicles to catch up to the quality of those used by Western forces.

The robots would be used in the place of human soldiers to minimize casualties during terrorist attacks or rescue operations, the paper quoted Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin as saying in April.

Human Rights Watch criticized the effort, which included the likelihood that some battlefield robots would be able to choose targets and fire independently, rather than under human control as is the case with U.S.-operated Predator and other drones, which are also widely criticized for inaccuracy in their attacks within the borders of foreign countries.

In December, Rogozin told Russia’s lower house of parliament that the defense forces were fast-tracking robotic weaponry and automated combat management systems as part of an upgrade in Russian weapons technology that will cost $640 billion through the year 2020.

No photos or other details were available about the robots being deployed to Russian missile sites.

Image: Shutterstock.com/The Life Tre-e Project

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