Imagine you’re a soldier fighting the good fight. You’ve got weapons in hand and an enemy to watch for. Out of nowhere comes an odd-looking dog that starts firing at your clan moments later. Extreme, yes. But worldwide, much like in any other industry, robots are finding their feet in military defense, too.

South Korea has announced its plans to include robot soldiers in their military that look and move as animals do. Making robotic soldiers also brings a whole new meaning to “precision”, which is something all military operations and war demands.

The United States and China have already made heavy investments in this sector and are raring to go. South Korea, on the other hand, is one of the smaller players in the field. The country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) announced big plans for robotics, specifically, ‘biomimetics’, in their military operations by 2024.

Birds, snakes, insects and marine species are all likely inspiration for the military robots. The field of biomimetics uses physics in the natural world as inspiration to engineer technology that serves a useful purpose.

South Korea’s biobot soldiers will not just be made in the likeness of animals, but also of human beings. What remains to be seen is just how exact the replication will be. In the initial stages, birds and marine robots will be used to carry out reconnaissance operations, according to a report in the Telegraph. Snake-like robots will be used to access constricted spaces and in areas hit by natural disasters.

Robots inspired by animals to be foot-soldiers in South Koreas military by 2024

A US military robot. Image credit: US Marine Corps/Cpl. Stormy Mendez

Using designs in nature also cuts the work of designers in half — many of these muses have evolved to the best versions of themselves, adapted to suitable environments. “Biometric robots will be a game changer in future warfare, and related technologies are expected to bring about great ripple effects throughout the defence industry,” Park Jeong-eun, spokesperson for the agency said in an interview with Yonhap News.

The Future is Robots

Let’s admit it. Better have robots fighting and dying on the battlefield than humans. But if there’s one thing science-fiction has taught us, it would be that robot armies come with downsides and evil overlords.

The 2004 Will Smith starrer I, Robot is one good example of how robots doing our bidding can go so-very sideways. If we envisioned this outrageous outcome 15 years ago, the possibilities with today’s technology are higher by a laughable degree.

That said, humane robots programmed to do tasks cannot replace people, not yet. The emotional quotient is an important element that sets us apart, and we’re still a while away from nailing that in a robot.

Now that we’ve found ways to make robots look, talk and speak like human beings, can we also build more robots to do our anti-climate change bidding?

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