Singapore sponsors contest to build warrior robot

Singapore wants to build autonomous combat robot

The island city-state of Singapore announced a contest to build a Terminator-style robot, able to operate in urban warfare environments independent of direct human control. That's right; no joystick.

Defense Science and Technology Agency

Individuals, companies, universities and research institutes are invited to compete in what the country's Defense Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) calls the TechX Challenge. The autonomous robot DSTA has in mind would be an all-weather unit, able to negotiate stairs, use an elevator and generally move and shoot in a search-and-destroy mode without the aid of satellite navigation, just like a human soldier.

"Operation in urban areas represents a significant challenge to militaries," DSTA chief executive Richard Lim said in announcing the contest. "Recent military experiences in Iraq, the Middle East and other locations have clearly illustrated these challenges."

Military robots currently in use are controlled remotely by humans (at least that's what we're told.) This limits their effectiveness and ties down resources, Lim complained.

Foreigners must round up a local partner to compete. First prize is a million Singapore dollars ($652,000 US). Hurry, applications must be in by end of May, with the top gun to be crowned next year.

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    The military establishment's ever increasing reliance on technology and whiz-bang gadgetry impacts us as consumers, investors, taxpayers and ultimately as the defended. Our mission here is to bring some of these products and concepts to your attention based on carefully selected criteria such as importance to national security, originality, collateral damage to the treasury and adaptability to yard maintenance-but not necessarily in that order. E-mail him at Disclosure.


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