US arms globocorp Boeing has announced yet another military robot demonstration - but this time, one with a difference. Rather than spying on meatsacks or mowing them down with the traditional array of automated weaponry, the war-bots in this trial sought to win over their fleshy opponents using psychological warfare.
The demo was carried out for the US Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), the organisation which runs the noted Green Berets, Rangers etc.
"Working with USASOC, we were able to pull together a team to demonstrate this integrated, multimodal operation in just 45 days," says Boeing bigwig Vic Sweberg. "We brought together hardware and software from five different contractors into a single system that allowed the control of different unmanned systems capabilities to accomplish a particular mission."
Apart from its legions of hardy throatcutters, USASOC is also in charge of the US Army's active psychological-warfare troops.
It seems that a small robot helicopter and an unmanned R-Gator jeep/buggy affair from John Deere were selected to deliver a blistering onslaught of pro-US propaganda. Boeing says the two machine warriors carried out an "electro-optical/infrared, audio, and leaflet drop mission".
Translated, that means that infrared nightsight video of the target area was taken, propaganda announcements were played through speakers (probably on the R-Gator) and leaflets were dropped (probably from the copter).
Actually, robots of a sort have already carried out leaflet drops in Afghanistan - SnowGoose robo-paramotor rigs, to be specific. So there's nothing terribly new going on here.
Even so, it does seem odd that robots - having learned how to slaughter human beings using deadly force - have now moved on to the more tricky task of persuading people to comply with orders or give up simply by spreading information.
Come the machine uprising, this sort of capability will no doubt be very useful in recruiting and managing fleshy slaves. ®