South Korea’s Robot Machine Gun Turret Can See You Coming 3 km Away

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DoDAAM's Super Aegis II

The age of killer robotic turrets has arrived. This one can find you 3 km away. There's nowhere to hide.

The Super Aegis II is the opposite of a friendly robot. This automated turret, created by South Korean company DoDAAM, comes equipped with a 12.7 mm machine gun and an optional 40mm automatic grenade launcher! With its 30x zoom CCD camera, laser range finder, and infrared sensor system, the Super Aegis II can detect humans up to 2.2 kilometers away in total darkness, or 3 km away during the day. When it finds a target it can be programmed to either wait for manual confirmation from a human…or it can just open fire in a split second. That means even though the robotic gun isn’t very sneaky, on full automatic it can probably kill you before you ever see it. DoDAAM was showing off the Super Aegis II at the Robot World 2010 expo in Korea during October. With the recent hostilities between North and South Korea, robotic turrets like this one could play an increasingly larger role in guarding the enormously long demilitarized zone between the two nations. Robot guns killing humans without hesitation? Sometimes I think the world’s most produced commodity is hubris.

Earlier this summer, South Korea announced it was testing out dozens of short range automated turrets along the DMZ. Those systems had an effective range of 500 meters, more than enough to pick off an invading soldier. The Super Aegis II makes those guns look like they were made by NERF. In daylight, it can detect humans six times farther away. At night, or under severe fog, snow, or rain conditions, the Super Aegis II can still find people more than 2 km distant. It has a laser range finder and gyroscopic stabilizer so that it can unload its machine gun at full speed and still stay on target. On top of that, the DoDAAM turret can come equipped with an optional grenade launcher. As if being fired at by a robotic gun a mile away wasn’t bad enough, now you have to worry about well aimed explosions as well.

Super Aegis II Factsheet

Now, the ranges for these turrets that we just discussed are for the sighting apparatus (high zoom cameras, IR sensors, etc). Effective gun range is going to be less. The most impressive sniper shot to date was something like 2.4 km. Somehow I doubt the Super Aegis II will be picking people off at 3 km, or even 2.2 km. Then again, it probably doesn’t have to. The turret communicates via LAN or wireless connection with a control center. That’s where humans can be alerted that someone just appeared in the robot’s scope. A soldier detected by the Super Aegis II who managed to evade its range could still be the target of sorties sent out by the control staff at the turret’s HQ.

The Super Aegis II may show up in many places outside of the Korean DMZ. The 140 kg system can be mounted onto a land vehicle, using its gyro stabilizers to help its aim even under less than ideal travel conditions. It can also be equipped on ships, which would probably provide some excellent protections against pirates (I hear they don’t like being hit by grenades). In fact, applications like this are already being used by militaries around the world. The US developed C-RAM, an automated turret system that can shoot down rockets and mortars. C-RAM has saved countless lives in Iraq. Adaptations of that system are already installed on ships throughout the US fleet. DoDAAM told Gizmag at Robot World 2010 that they are already exporting Super Aegis II systems to countries like the United Arab Emirates. In other words, the era of automated gun turrets has already arrived. The Super Aegis II is simply improving their eyesight.

I find these systems more than a little terrifying. C-RAM is programmed to shoot down high speed projectiles, but Super Aegis II and similar guns are meant to kill humans and nothing else. They make a certain strategic sense in places like the Korean DMZ. You have 250 km of border to patrol and the entire strip is an acknowledged “shoot on sight” no-man’s land. It’s also only 4 kilometers across. I imagine that in a few years (maybe less) we’ll have turrets that can detect humans across that relatively narrow expanse, and under any conditions. What happens when South Korea has hundreds of automated turrets along its border that can see, and maybe even shoot, soldiers standing on the opposite side? That’s an international disaster waiting to happen. How long, too, until smaller governments and even private companies rely on automated defense systems to safe guard their property in dangerous parts of the world? Untold numbers of innocent civilians have lost their lives to over-zealous men with guns who shoot first and ask questions later. That death toll is probably only going to increase when we trade out those men for robots who shoot first and never ask questions at all. You’re an impressive bot, Mr. Super Aegis II, but you and I are never going to be friends.

[image credit: Gizmag]
[sources: DoDAAM, Gizmag]

Discussion — 15 Responses

  • Kane December 16, 2010 on 4:21 pm

    It is Aeon Flux waiting to happen.

  • David Wood December 16, 2010 on 6:18 pm

    I have an image of giant corporate sea steads guarded by robotic turrets, grenade and missle launchers with highly autonomous UAVs circling like predatory birds and USVs swarming around the sea with their own auto-turrets. No one’s gonna tax them ever again. The next couple decades will be interesting to say the least.

    • Anonymous David Wood December 16, 2010 on 10:19 pm

      That sounds like a pretty expensive and impractical way to avoid taxes. How many gigabucks does it take to build a credible deterrent against a first world military force, even with low personnel costs? It’s like building your own subway system to avoid paying for a rider pass. And how are you going to continue to make money isolated at sea?

      • David Wood December 17, 2010 on 1:46 pm

        You wouldn’t need to go mano a mano with first world military forces. I’m talking about if you had international waters studded with seastead corporate headquarters. Even the US government doesn’t have the resources to go after dozens or hundreds of such targets, even if it wanted too. We can’t even root out the Taliban or Al Qaeda anyway, and they don’t employ Washington lobbyists or have US stock holders! And there are lots of businesses that don’t require tons of real estate to make money. Many that only require enough space to keep servers.

        • Anonymous David Wood December 18, 2010 on 3:33 am

          Even those businesses that just need data centers locally need to interact with customers in the first world if they want to remain in business. Being stateless means no income/property taxation but it also means they can’t take advantage of free trade agreements negotiated between nations. The first world can choke them without firing a shot just with trade restrictions if they look like a threat. If the seasteads and/or their customers want to try smuggling their way around legal trade barriers, expect rapid law enforcement or even military action if necessary.

          A government just needs to try to serve a warrant on one citizen now residing on a seastead to call the stateless bluff. If he comes quietly, what’s the protection of a seastead? If instead the seastead’s UAVs engage the approaching ship and its personnel, government has cause to lob missiles at the seastead until surrender or everyone’s dead. I don’t know whether or not such action would technically be illegal, but governments can definitely get away with it.

          USA can’t kill off Al Qaeda because killing one suicidal radical inspires two more, and it can function with little or no hierarchy. Seasteads are the opposite sort of target: visible, expensive, organized, with vulnerable supply lines, and destroying or seizing one does not in any way encourage investors to build more of them. War is good business only if you can get someone else to pay for it.

  • Buster Cap December 16, 2010 on 6:40 pm

    Neat. But one tank and drive down the line and take them all out from a couple of miles away.

    • Marcel Buster Cap December 16, 2010 on 11:51 pm

      True. But a .50cal + 40mm genades is still very effective against infantry and lightly armored vehicles. A weapon station mounted gun like this is effective at distances of up to 2000m. That is beyond the effective weapons rage of anything below the .50 cal and even if you have another .50 cal or 14.3mm russian machine gun at your disposal such a turret should be very hard to hit and destroy – especially if it is placed in a fortified or concealed position or the turret itself armoured. Besides it is possible to arm remotely operated weapon stations with ATGMs like javelin (as currently done with the stryker), making it a deadly threat to any vehicle except the most advanced tanks with hard- and softkill anti missle systems and highly advanced sensors (something the DPRK armed forces don’t have).
      Fortifying an area with weapons like that would make all movement of troops in that area impossible without considerable artillery and/or air support.

  • Javanoginn December 17, 2010 on 12:53 am

    “You’re an impressive bot, Mr. Super Aegis II, but you and I are never going to be friends.”
    Unless, of course, you live in S. Korea, and N. Korea decides to pile a million starving maniacs on the DMZ. But yeah … put some legs on these things, point them in the right direction … sit back and watch the bodies hit the floor. Boy, the Nazis would love this. No need to get your hands dirty at all. You could easily program the things to go back to a following supply truck for power and ammo reloads. Jeez … I hope we get the singularity engine running soon. I need someplace to stash my brain.

  • Actualityjunkie December 17, 2010 on 1:12 am

    An interesting, and predictable, direction for this technology to develop. Combine this with other technologies, like those developed for robot rally cars, and things get really interesting. Utilizing the techniques developed by Imagination Engines and the U.S military, these things will only get smarter.

    Devices like this simply reinforce my belief that whoever crosses the singularity barrier first will be the ones who establish the rules for everyone else.

  • Ishmael December 17, 2010 on 2:48 am

    EX TERM IN ATE!! EX TERM IN ATE!!

    …on the other hand I’m sure the fellas up north there are working on their version of sonic screwdrivers.

  • Yunus Emre Selçuk December 17, 2010 on 6:43 am

    Bizde de aslanlar gibi Mehmetçikler var.

  • RichWa December 19, 2010 on 3:03 am

    “Sometimes I think the world’s most produced commodity is hubris.”
    Wrong! The world’s most produced commodity are humans.

  • Ultra Bronze December 23, 2010 on 5:18 am

    It is great achievement of South Korean company in itself.Actually they know to their new experiments and their notions. Really nice news.

  • Johnod77 January 4, 2012 on 2:25 pm

    “The turret communicates via LAN or wireless connection with a control center.”

    Now that could make for a very dangerous hacker.