Armed Robot?

Occasionally, technological advances come along that lead us to say, “Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.” Such may be the case with an intelligent security robot that was recently unveiled in China. Known as the AnBot, it was developed to patrol areas where frequent civil unrest and violence is an issue.

The five foot (1.5 meter) tall, 170 pound (78 kg) droid can navigate autonomously at a top speed of about 11 miles per hour (18 kilometers per hour). It uses on-board sensors coupled with intelligent video analysis to patrol, identify and avoid obstacles, as well as recharge on its own. An SOS button also allows members of the public to notify authorities in the event of an emergency.

But here’s the questionable part: AnBot is equipped with weapons that can be deployed by remote control to “prevent and control violence.” Although these weapons are reportedly nothing more than electrically-charged riot control tools (stun guns), and can only be activated under the control of a human operator, it leads us to question whether this is the best use of robotics technology.

For information: National Defense University, Republic of China; Web site: