Originally posted by projectvxn
US Army Tests Robot Suits
We could expand upon this type of framework: Add armor, computerized visual displays with external censors and because of the amplified strength of
the individual soldier he can carry a bigger, more powerful weapon, and alot more weight including ammo.
Before we talk about Large Mechs we should try something a little more our size. I think we can indeed do this today.
There are very big fundamental differences in concept between a powered suit, a piloted walking mecha, and a walking robot. They may be mechanically
similar, but they do not fill the same roles. A robot sentry gun has more in common conceptually with a landmine than it does with an infantry scale
(useful) powered armor is closer to regular infantry than to anything else. useful powered armor is powered armor that doesn't significantly hinder
an infantryman's ability to fight normally, while affording them greater load bearing capacity and general strength, while still leaving them small
enough to go into buildings and use regular sized cover. This is tough to do, but could be a reality in just a few years. the problem, of course, is
the power supply. It's generally got to be small gas or monopropellant engines.
A piloted mecha is most similar to dedicated combat AFVs in their tonnage range. For the weight they'll be much slower over flat to moderate rough
terrain, slower over most types of rough terrain, more expensive, and will present a less desirable target profile, with less mass available as armor
to cover it. Due to their height, they won't be able to fit as high of recoil weapons per ton. This may or may not be a problem; big kinetic guns
might be going out of style.
Robotic combat infantry is a good idea. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most difficult to implement things I can think of that could quite
possibly be created with today's technology. The problem isn't the chassis, that can take the form of whatever is deemed most useful per dollar
spent. The ptoblem is the brains of the operation. Getting a machine that can recognize what should be shot at and what shouldn't could take decades.
Hell, I only trust PEOPLE to do that because there's nothing better available. Barring real AI, giving a machine the ability to respond to strange
and rapidly changing situations autonomously will be mind-bogglingly difficult.
Given enough money, right now I'm sure any number of companies could rig you up a smart little killing machine that could do the job of killing
people in built up terrain far better than a human being, whilst under direct human control. It isn't the chassis that's the problem. Mabye we're a
few years out on adequately quick limbs for legged propulsion of such a thing; that isn't the main obstacle. An army of directly remote-controlled
vehicles isn't feasible, and won't be in the future.
I think that the best option is that in the meantime, while the more interesting near-future technologies become viable, we work on creating dedicated
vehicles more suited to the problems we currently face. There should be a dedicated armored fighting vehicle for supporting infantry in cities and
other built-up terrain, while not expecting to face real armour. There should be a dedicated convoy escort vehicle, and a dedicated low cost, close
air support aircraft that can be operated from unprepared landing strips.
There's no major problems we face that scream out a need for legs. There are, however, major problems we face that demand good 360 degree vision and
high main gun elevation and depression capabilities.