According to the Moscow Times, Russia will be testing military robots that eventually will be used to protect intercontinental ballistic missile launch sites. Russia’s goal is to have this robotic protection in place before 2020.
Deputy Defense Minister Pavel Popov told the Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper, “This year, a complex program ‘Creating of Advanced Military Robotics For 2025’ has been developed and approved. Alongside with the development of new models, we plan to train specialists for maintaining the advanced models. The task will be carried out by the ministry’s system of education.”
Next month, Russia is slated to begin training the country’s first military robot operators and at the Peter the Great Academy, located in the city of Serpukhov, outside of Moscow.
The testing is supposed to take place in the Astrakan region, a coastal industrial city located about 1000 miles south of Moscow. The focus of the testing will be “exploring mobile and stationary robotic systems, including those that are responsible for the formulation of remote-controlled means of stealth technology and signaling,” announced Major Dimitri Andreyev, who represents the Defense Ministry’s Strategic Missile Forces.
The robots being tested each weigh approximately 2000 pounds and are equipped with a 12.7 millimeter machine gun. They can move at up to 28 miles an hour, and can operate for up to 10 hours at a time. Andreyev declined to comment further about the battle robots, referring to them as a “remote-controlled filing system.”
This project is a top priority for the Russian military. This is primarily because of the overall length of the Russian border and the need to have the ability to perform ground, overwater, and submarine military operations in locations that are unsuitable or unsafe for human soldiers, such as the Arctic Region.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has said that someday soon, one Russian soldier will be able to do the work of 5 to 10 soldiers today. This leap forward would be impossible without advanced robots.
The jury is partly out on the feasibility of this ambitious Russian program. Frank Tobe, who is the editor of The Robot Report, says that Russia has a lot of catching up to do as it pertains to sophisticated fighting robots. Tobe told Popular Mechanics, “My sources in Israel and the US say that Russia is generations behind and not a serious participant in the growing signs of unmanned vehicle.”
However, Mark Gubrud, a member of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control says, “Russia will need years to catch up in robotics, but is fully capable of doing so. This highlights the folly of pursuing a robot arms race.”
Even Russian President Vladimir Putin has weighed in, saying, “These are serious combat systems, both attack and reconnaissance versions. It is absolutely clear that they have good prospects.”