There have been robots patrolling the sunny sands of Iraq since the initial invasion, but until now, they've merely been there to scope stuff out. That was then, this is now. According to Noah over at the always-awesome Danger Room blog, the military has just deployed their new "special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system" (SWORDS) that has been in development for the past few years. What are the SWORDS, exactly? Oh, just some bomb-disposal robots armed with M249 machine guns. Holy shit, robots with machine guns.
This is a pretty huge step forward for robotics in warfare. Never before have armed robots been deployed in a war. There are only three of them deployed at the moment, and none of them have fired any rounds yet, but Michael Zecca, the SWORDS program manager, says "that'll be happening soon." Yikes.
In addition to the machine guns, the SWORDS can be loaded up with the optional X-ray kit to check out suspicious packages or to make sure the guy it just apprehended didn't swallow a bomb. That's all well and good, but just keep them over there rather than back home; I've seen the Itchy and Scratchy Land episode of The Simpsons. I know how this party is gonna end. [Danger Room]