Drones with shotguns? It sounds like something out of a new Terminator sequel but this is not science fiction. A recent report in The Times chronicles a new directive from the U.K. Ministry of Defence to develop twin shotgun-toting drones that are able to navigate through buildings. They will also be able to identify possible targets using machine vision.
As of now, the drones are in the prototyping phase and are called i9. Their primary usage will be for indoor conflicts where sending humans might be too dangerous. The drones themselves are likely to have a number of different autonomous features, but the actual weapons will be wielded by a soldier using a remote control. the Ministry of Defence claims that they have no plans to create Lethal Armed Autonomous Systems (LAWS).
These drones will apparently be the first weaponized drone for the U.K. military that will be capable of navigating indoors. It is difficult for these machines to fly indoors because of a phenomenon known as “wall suck.” Drones with heavy payloads – shotguns and their ammo would certainly qualify as a heavy payload – have issues maneuvering in small rooms because of the way they displace air. the displacement causes them to gravitate towards walls indoors and crash. This new model aims to solve that problem using a mix of “physics and A.I.”
As far-fetched as this might seem, weaponized drones are nothing new. Even gun-wielding drones have been around for a while. Duke Robotics in Florida created TIKAD, a model that holds a number of semi-automatic weapons, not to mention a 40mm grenade launcher. Although, it seems like that model is strictly cleared for outdoor use. The i9 would be revolutionary if it can conquer flying indoors.
Drones are becoming a more and more commonplace facet of our lives. We recently reported on a new home security camera drone from Amazon that could change the landscape of home security systems. And Walmart has even begun delivering groceries using the flying contraptions. It does not seem like it will be long before we see drones be a permanent fixture in a number of areas.
More than the military application, the ability for heavy-laden drones to navigate in indoor terrain could prove to be the most revolutionary aspect of this new model. There are likely numerous other applications such new technology could be used for. Not only package delivery for consumers but for aiding civilians in war-torn urban areas. Delivering medical supplies or large amounts of food for humanitarian aid would also be incredibly helpful.
Hopefully, the developers behind the i9 have done a recent rewatch of The Terminator and are doing their best to make sure that A.I. doesn’t wake up one morning and decide to use those shotguns against us. Until then, we are going to be a little uneasy with this news. Right now, there has been no official word or announcement as to the official release of the i9. Once we are able to see it in action, we will get you updated.