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Gallery: Armies of combat robots

The U.S. military is building armies of combat robots which come in all shapes and sizes - on land, sea, and air.
By Andy Smith, Contributor on
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The U.S. military is building armies of combat robots which come in all shapes and sizes - on land, sea, and air. Larry Dignan warns that the Terminator scenario might not be as fictional as we'd think. And most of the robots are already in action.

These desert robots won't be stopped by a little sand.

Credit: Office of Naval Research

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The Preditor is primarily used for surveillance in Afghanistan but can be armed with Hellfire missiles.


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The primary mission for the aptly named Reaper is to be a "persistent hunter-killer" drone, the first such device at the Air Force's disposal.

Credit: U.S. Air Force

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The MAV uses a ducted-fan system in the circular black housing to perform vertical takeoff and landing maneuvers, in addition to hovering.

Credit: Stephen Baack

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Robotic aircraft know as unmanned flying vehicles (UAVs) are getting smaller and larger. This small Ornithoper MAV with flapping wings was designed by students at Brigham Young University and is being used for surveillance.

Credit: BYU

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Northrop Grumman's X-47A is expected to be able to climb to more than 40,000 feet, to carry 4,500 pounds of equipment and to do everything from intelligence-gathering to time-sensitive targeting and attacks. Due in late 2009, it will also be able to land on an aircraft carrier.

Credit: Northrup Grumman

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The veteran Packbot is small enough to fit in a backpack. This small robot has been used extensively in Iraq to perform surveillance duties and most importantly investigate and/or detonate potential bombs - keeping humans out of danger.

Credit: iRobot

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The Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System (SWORDS) is fully armed.

Credit: Foster-Miller Corp.

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The Crusher is a 5.5 ton, 6 wheel armed robotic vehicle that's capable of carrying 8,000 pounds and racing at 26 mph. It has a camera at the end of its 18-foot mast. It can also withstand a mine explosion.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

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iRobot's Griffon is a Packbot with a propeller in front of it so it can fly.

Credit: iRobot

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Another robot designed to operate in the desert.

Credit: Office of Naval Research

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This is the XM1219 Armed Robotic Vehicle (ARV)-Assault-Light (ARV-A-L).

Credit: U.S. Army

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Ruumba and Packbot maker iRobot has rights to develop an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle). Seaglider was developed by the Applied Physics Laboratory and the School of Oceanography at the University of Washington in conjunction with the National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research, which funded the initial project.

Credit: University of Washington

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This purpose of this autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), called the Fetch 3.5, is to sense and record various information about the seas. Baltimore-based Prizm Advanced Communication Electronics say it can handle missions up to 30 hours long and can plunge to depths as low as 500 feet. Looks like it might be able to do more.

Credit: Anne Broache/CNET News

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The Seahorse is 3 feet in diameter and can be equipped with lethal weapons.

Credit: Penn State University

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Underwater robots can use solar power.

Credit: NOAA

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