The machine-gun-toting sentry robot recently unveiled by Samsung’s Techwin division is the antithesis of Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics. The Intelligent Surveillance and Guard Robot is a stationary unit armed with a 5.5-millimeter K3 machine gun and a second gun that fires rubber bullets. It can use its twin optical and infrared sensors to track and identify targets from up to 2.5 miles away in the daytime and about half that distance at night.
It also has a microphone and speaker system to exchange passwords with human soldiers. If the password is incorrect, the robot can either sound an alarm or open fire on the target.
“This is a frightening development in real-world ‘Terminators,'” said Mike Adams, a technology commentator and ethicist. “Mounting machine guns on automated robotic platforms takes humans out of the decision loop. Before long, these robots will be self-propelled with legs, wheels or tracks, and then we’re faced with a world of autonomous killing machines.
“There’s no question that these types of robots will eventually be used to commit atrocities against humankind,” he said.
The robot was developed with the assistance of a South Korean university for deployment along the demilitarized zone between the North Korean and South Korean border. The northern border of South Korea is the most heavily militarized zone in the world, and the country has invested millions of dollars in automated military technology. According to Samsung, around 1,000 of the $200,000 units are expected to sell in the robot’s first year of release.
Currently, robot sentries guard South Korean home bases in Iraq.
“The gist of this project is to transform the current guard and observation mission on fronts conducted by soldiers into a robot system,” said Shin Hyun-don, a South Korean defense ministry spokesman, in an interview with The Korea Times. “We will comprehensively review the requirements of operational capability before implementing it.”