Carnegie-Mellon is a great university and when it comes to robotics and computer science is always on the cutting edge. But does that cutting edge have to be so sharply lethal?
Unmanned aircraft are showing up in the skies more often and today the US Army awarded $14.4 million to Carnegie Mellon to build a remote-controlled unmanned tank.
A certain amount of the award will go toward significantly improving the Crusher, a 6.5-ton unmanned support vehicle Carnegie engineers developed in 2006 in conjunction with DARPA. Since its introduction, the Crusher has demonstrated unparalleled toughness and mobility during extensive field trials in extremely rugged terrain, according to Carnegie Mellon. (Network World)
I’m sure these researchers and their students and postdocs have rationalized this in some way. Maybe they think it’s a good thing or just another way to do things that are “interesting.” But research on how to make unmanned weapons more lethal is reprehensible, a perversion of science. Of course we all know perverts are not uncommon. Maybe we should make them register so we know when they are in our academic neighborhood.
CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) is on the case, proud to say they will work closely with US Army Tank-Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC). Probably most of these guys are just ordinary techies who don’t care what their creations are used for.
But they should care.