The one metre high ‘SWORDS’ (Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection System) robots will be the first armed robotic vehicles to see combat.
Boasting four cameras, night-vision and zoom lenses, it will carry standard-issue automatic weapons capable of firing up to 1,000 rounds per minute.
Although its top speed is limited to seven kilometres an hour, developers say its tank-like tracks mean SWORDS can overcome rock piles and barbed wire.
And running on lithium ion batteries, it can operate up to four hours at a time, depending on the terrain.
Over the past year, the US military has been busy submitting SWORDS to a series of tests to make sure it can stand up to radio jammers and other countermeasures.
But the Pentagon has been quick to point out they aren’t the autonomous killer robots of science fiction.
These remote-controlled robotic warriors will rely on a human touch to work.
Operators will control it using a 30-pound control unit that has two joysticks, a handful of buttons and a video screen.
Remotely studying footage from the robot’s cameras, they can identify and shoot at targets at a press of a button.
Among the advantages the US$200,000 robots offers are that they don’t need to be paid, trained, fed, disciplined or clothed; they can be boxed up and warehoused between wars; and although they can be destroyed, they can’t be killed.
Developers say the SWORDS robot not only allows operators to fire at enemies without exposing themselves to return fire but also can make them more accurate.
The better accuracy stems largely from the fact that its gun is mounted on a stable platform and fired electronically, rather than by a soldier’s hands.