Cyberpunk Review » That’s Impossible: Real Terminators

July 19, 2009

That’s Impossible: Real Terminators

Source:, plus a few other locales.

Robots that think, move like humans and fight our wars–Real Terminators–may now be possible. At leading universities and covert government labs, robots are now being developed in man’s image; cyborgs with superhuman strength, machines that may eventually be able to make decisions, even kill on their own. But will these very robots designed to protect us ultimately turn on their masters?


Rise of the Robots. When I first heard about this episode of That’s Impossible while watching Ice Road Truckers, I just had to watch to see where we were with military robotics… and where we may be headed. Real Terminators is second episode of the That’s Impossible series, which includes other topics like invisibility, immortality, and “weather warfare.” I managed to catch the Tuesday (July 14) night premiere of Real Terminators, while they repeated the episode early Wednesday morning. History won’t rebroadcast Real Terminators until Saturday, July 25 @ 3pm, so make certain to have your TiVos programmed to record it if you can’t watch it on time, or there’s always the Torrent route.

Real Terminators shows how robot combat has evolved to its near-current state, and what other robot technologies and breakthroughs can affect what the battlefield mechs will be like. Hint: It won’t be like BattleBots or Robot Wars.


Goliath Tracked Mine

You might think that this is a scale model of a WWI-era tank, but this little bugger is the father of all battlefield robots. Click the image to see the Wikipedia article about it.

Humble beginnings. Battlefield robots actually got their start in WWII, thanks to Nazi Germany. They used a remote controlled tank-bot called the Goliath tracked mine, which was driven to its target and detonated. It was considered a failure due to the control cables being easily cut or damaged and the vehicle itself being too lightly armored, but the Goliath has since become something of an inspiration to future war-bots… though it would take some sixty years after the first tracked mines were produced before battlefield robots would begin to emerge with the SWORDS robots. But robots were already in the air, thanks to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle.


The Next Big Step is to get the drones out of the sky and back on the ground, but without the tank treads or wheels being used today. Drones need their legs, and the Big Dog shows why:

Boston Dynamics’ Big Dog robot is intended to be a pack-animal, but some can’t stop thinking about weaponizing it.

Already, Boston Dynamics is developing a two-legged robot, the PETMAN, to better navigate human environments.


Organic components. DARPA is not looking at just a mechanized future for the military. They intend to keep a human element to the machines through the use of robotic exoskeletons:


Other pieces of the puzzle. In order to make terminators possible, one major breakthrough must happen: Artificial Intelligence. Future robots will need highly-developed (almost human-like) AI to do seemingly simple things like identify targets and allies, use strategies, and know when to fall back for repairs and recharging/refueling. Also, robots will need to show “instincts” like gauging a person’s emotional state to recognize when s/he might attack. Those “instincts” may come courtesy of a brain scanner. This will allow a robot to decide if they should kill on its own, without some human operator needing to pull a trigger.

But there’s more being considered. Robots will need to recharge or refuel. That may be alleviated by the EATR project, which will allow robots to consume organic matter for energy. Also, repair and construction/replication of robots, where nanaotechnology is being considered to fill these needs.


Now consider what can happen with all the pieces in place. A robot soldier, hundreds of time stronger than a human, with an appetite for organics and programmed to kill, and able to repair itself.


Now imagine a whole army of these robots…

This post has been filed under Rise of the Robots, TV Episodes, News as Cyberpunk by Mr. Roboto.


July 20, 2009

Lord_IV said:

The idea of making BIGDOG a lethal weapon would be a bit more imaginable if it didn’t sound like a goddamn lawn mower.

Bwomp said:

Also frightening, and i think worth mentioning, the ripsaw MS1.

Mr No1 said:

The end is nigh!!! XD

Paulo Millhouse said:

Well, wake me when putting teeth on red-eyed humanoid robots became standart.

July 21, 2009

johnkzin said:

Rather than weaponizing bigdog, I’d love to see someone make a vehicle out of it. Think “robo-horse”. Put a saddle on it, some form of console where you’d expect the head to be, and there you go.

You could ride it, put your gear on it, or both.

July 22, 2009

Rencontres said:

First of all good post !

That “robo horse” for me its the most stable robot ever created. The robot is useful for exploring by his jumping and climbing abilities. Dont call it robo horse its name is big dog :) Robo dog sounds better , isnt it ?


July 23, 2009

Mr. Roboto said:

johnkzin, Rencontres; Did you say “robo-horse?”

There’s a concept vehicle called the Nomad, and it indeed is a “Robo-horse.”

Check the link: The Design Blog

July 27, 2009

pAul_pOt said:

wow, that’s absolutely the predecessor to the Tachikomas!

August 7, 2009

zephyrin_xirdal said:

Inspired by one of your earlier posts I once have written a blog-entry which micght fit in:

September 2, 2009

Crisostomo Ibarra said:

The Germans did pioneer a lot of advancements in WW2. The Goliath, the missiles etc. The US’s Predators and other UAVs may trace their ancestry to the Jerry’s Mistels.

September 14, 2009

Felix Valentine said:

The BigDog reminds me of the “hound” from Fahrenheit 451. You know, the one with the needle? The one they use to track down “criminals” (including the main chraracter). I could totally see them using this BigDog in some kind of horror suspense game, because its movement looks like something out of Silent Hill.

October 4, 2009

GregariousSummer said:

The Nazi’s also are the direct ancestors of the US space program, and some of their scientists were rolled right into NASA. Look up the paperclip conspiracy.

November 25, 2010

Anti-Next-WWIII said:

Read the book of Peter Warren Singer and watch his lecture on youtube. You will find out, that the machine warrior war is not far away and will be a part of the 21st century. It’s a part of the evolution of modern warfare. And it is especially for the US-economy a new chance to get on topp at the world market.

December 8, 2010

Doobie said:

Amazing. It disturbs me that it sounds like a damn fly.

Leave a comment

~All Related Entries Related This~


All News as Cyberpunk

<<--Back to top

Made with WordPress and the Semiologic CMS | Design by Mesoconcepts