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Robotic Rights

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Date: May 08, 2007 - 02:33 PM
When do tools get too cuddly?

The army's apparently having trouble with mine-clearing robots. It seems that watching them get blown up, and still crawl forward, triggers some protective feelings.

At the Yuma Test Grounds in Arizona, the autonomous robot, 5 feet long and modeled on a stick-insect, strutted out for a live-fire test and worked beautifully, he says. Every time it found a mine, blew it up and lost a limb, it picked itself up and readjusted to move forward on its remaining legs, continuing to clear a path through the minefield.

Finally it was down to one leg. Still, it pulled itself forward. Tilden was ecstatic. The machine was working splendidly.

The human in command of the exercise, however -- an Army colonel -- blew a fuse.
...
The colonel just could not stand the pathos of watching the burned, scarred and crippled machine drag itself forward on its last leg.




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