Robot sniper technology

Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was assassinated with a remote-controlled machine gun, according to Iranian officials. If this is true, then this method will be the most popular although it is not the first incident in which this technology is used.

According to the Iranian News Agency (Fars), the operation was carried out last Friday from a distance and a control room allegedly located in Israel, without the presence of personnel at the scene of the attack. This is a major shift from previous Iranian reports that claimed that some militants opened fire, according to one version.

According to the latest version of events presented by Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, “there was no one at the site.”

Remote-controlled weapons have a long history. Back in World War II, B29 Superfortress aircraft were the first to replace soldiers from the five turrets at various points on the plane with a grid of mirrors connected to computers that act as a “sighting station”.

When the gunner points at a target device, the rudimentary computer – which was in use at the time as a central fire-fighting system manufactured by General Electric – calculates the displacement required to direct the cannons where they should be pointing.

The turrets installed on the aircraft, each carrying two .50 caliber machine guns, were deadly as one-shot down 7 Japanese fighters in one sortie. These remote towers continued in use until early releases of the US Air Force’s B-52 (B52) bomber.

Remote weapons technology went a step further when TV cameras gave the operator a better look.

In recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, insurgents have often attacked the machine gun over a vehicle armored with improvised explosive devices or sniper fire, and this has largely replaced the “artillery” with a system called the Joint Remotely Operated Weapon Station, or CROWS so that The same task can be performed from afar.

Norwegian-based Kongsberg has provided about 20,000 remote systems, which can support 50 or 7.62mm machine guns or grenade launchers, with day or night options, or thermal imaging cameras. The systems are fully installed so that the machine gun can keep the target even from a vehicle moving over rough terrain.

It is not exclusive to the West

At the same time, a completely different type of remote-controlled weapon appeared on the black market. It was detailed in a 2016 US Army report by Robert Pinker and Alma Keshavars entitled “Terrorist and Insurgent Sniper Rifles and Machine Rifles.”

Robots compete to hunt snipers in the Navy Challenge

In 2019, a US Navy competition was held to see if robots could perform a simulated mission to hunt snipers. This task, in theory, is well suited to robots whose sensors can read the environment differently from human eyes, as their artificial bodies lack the meat that snipers would like to target.

In order for robots to be effective in the mission, they need to complete a set of static missions: navigate space, find snipers, place shots on target, and return to where they were launched.

Launched in 2015, the competition takes place every two years and requires teams to create a “fully autonomous and artificial intelligence ground vehicle to neutralize a dangerous battlefield”. (The competition’s secondary objective is to enhance teamwork among teams tasked with building robots).

While the ammo was fake and the battlefield was stripped, the exercise was designed to display complete independence, leaving humans to operate the machines and then out of the way as they target and fire. All members of the team used a Clearpath unmanned ground vehicle and Robotics Jackal as the basis for their robot. The previous competitions required teams to build both the hardware and software of the robot from scratch, with the same standard robot body, and the 2019 teams were able to focus on the independent features of robot combat.


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