While I try to avoid discussing the military and it’s use of drones, I’ve discussed weaponized drones a number of times on this blog. Thanks to Duke Robotics, I’m forced to tackle the issue again.
This time, we have to consider the TIKAD, “a new kind of killer drone.” The TIKAD looks quite similar to your friendly commercial drones, that’s because it had a former life. Interested? Read on:
There’s a new kind of killer drone. Called TIKAD, it isn’t like any lethal drones you’re seen before. Because unlike the effective-yet-cumbersome MQ-9 Reapers, these multicopters can carry a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher, or a machine gun—the inevitable convergence of hobby drones and military weapons.
Big drones like the Reaper and its predecessor, the Predator, are controlled from thousands of miles away, orbit at five or ten thousand feet, and watch everything happening below. They strike with laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, which are precise but hardly surgical, causing collateral damage and loss of life. Urban combat requires something with more finesse, something that can take out a sniper without destroying a building and doesn’t require an entire team to do it.
By now you might be asking yourself why? Why would anyone want to create such a device. According to Raziel “Razi” Atuar, co-founder and CEO of Duke Robotics, he has the best of intentions.
“The idea is to create something that enables you to send in a sniper rifle on a drone and eliminate a target with pinpoint accuracy,” says Raziel “Razi” Atuar, co-founder and CEO of Duke Robotics. “And then you save lives on both sides.”
Much of the startup’s vision for modern warfare comes from its motto: “No boots on the ground.” The idea of sending armed drones in the place of human soldiers stems from the startup founders’ own military backgrounds.
Best intentions aside, everyone knows what the road to hell is paved with. That being said, it’s not like Raziel had a “new” idea here.
Although this new drone, purchased by Israel, could be the first of its kind used in the field, the idea of arming small drones has been around for a few years. Back in 2012, the U.S. Navy experimented with arming quadcopters with shotguns as counter-sniper weapons but eventually halted the project. Meanwhile, the U.S. military fielded the SwitchBlade, a portable, tube-launched kamikaze drone with a small explosive warhead and a range of several miles.
But it’s not just the U.S. military that has been exploring the combat use of consumer drones. ISIS graduated from homemade kamikaze drones in 2015 to swarms of quadcopter bombers in the battle for Mosul this year. These repurposed consumer drones could hit vehicles several hundred feet below with bombs adapted from 40mm grenades and could only be stopped by sophisticated U.S. jammers.
Even a disenfranchised teenager, with too much time and a little technical prowess, was able to build his own home brew version.
With this new disruptive technology so readily available, it’s important to consider how we apply it, before we do. As Futurism aptly points out:
Reducing unnecessary casualties in war is, of course, a noble goal. Drones make that possible are definitely high-priority, and there’s pending legislation asking for such a technology to be used by the U.S. military. However, the notion that you could put such weapons in drones that look as common as your regular quad-copter is somehow alarming.
As always, I don’t want my readers to be left hanging, so here is a promotional video for Duke Robotics TIKAD:
Duke Robotics Inc. announces, TIKAD, a dramatic step forward in protecting our troops by developing the resources needed to fight terrorism effectively today.
Governments are spending more than ever before on Defense budgets today, which provides an enormous incentive to solve problems that troops currently face.
TIKAD, the Future Soldier, saves lives by replacing boots on the ground.
Duke Robotics will work with select government clients around the globe with the goal to reduce the number of deployed troops as well as empower troops with immediate air-power deployment, improving prospects of mission success, minimizing battlefield injuries, loss of life to friendly troops and saving innocent civilians.
The TIKAD has to be most frightening octocopter I’ve ever seen, but I guess that’s the point.