U.S. Army Lt. General Rick Lynch says 155 of his troops’ lives were lost in Iraq, and unmanned robotic vehicles could have spared 122 of those lives by replacing them on dangerous surveillance missions.
Speaking at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference, Lynch said that deploying autonomously navigated ground vehicles could have cut casualties from IEDs, reports Wired’s Noah Shachtman.
Lynch’s background includes a master’s degree in robotics from MIT and experience leading the army’s Third Infantry Division in Iraq.
To be sure, robot infantry has been used in Iraq, including the SWORD unmanned vehicle, which sports an M249 light machine gun. But their use has been limited, and critics say they’re not flexible enough in theater to replace a human soldier.
“There’s a resistance saying that armed ground robots are not ready for the battlefield. I’m not of that camp,” Lynch said.