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Future Armies Could Use Drones and Robots to Storm Buildings


Rafael Advanced Defense Systems, an Israeli defense firm that dates back to the 1940s, has shown off a new artificial intelligence-powered system that lets drones and robots enter buildings together to scan the insides in order to create maps.

“We use commercial platforms and integrate the autonomous operational capabilities and our A.I.-driven computer vision,” Shmuel Olanski, head of Rafael’s innovation program center, told the website Calcalist. “Identifying targets automatically has been operational for years in air forces and naval forces across the world, but infantry forces weren’t able to benefit from it — until now.”

As part of its demonstration, Rafael used several nano drones, a heavier multi-rotor UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle), and the four-legged Spirit robot developed by Ghost Robotics, a military robotics company Digital Trends has covered previously.

Using A.I. to create “a safer world”

The system was developed in collaboration with facial recognition and visual A.I. company Anyvision. On its website, Anyvision promises “A.I.-driven computer vision for a safer world.” The two companies have now set up another company, SightX, that will develop defense applications.

According to the report about the new tech, the system could be utilized to map entire buildings before a single person would need to enter. This could ensure that human soldiers know exactly what to do once they are inside, how to avoid threats, and potentially where targets are located. The visual recognition technology can reportedly be used to distinguish between civilians and combatants, as well as establish whether or not people are armed.

The drones and robots used in the demo could also be augmented with heat and proximity sensors to further improve their capabilities. It’s unclear whether a system such as this could also make use of offensive weapons as has been the case with some other military robots in recent years.

It is also not clear when this platform could be deployed for real. In recent years, there has been a big uptick in the number of robotic platforms intended for military applications. The idea is that this could be used to safeguard lives by avoiding sending humans into risky situations without full knowledge about the potential threats they face.

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