Design robots to hunt humans


The Department of Defense wants you to design a pack of robots that would hunt humans. Or, as they put it, “search for and detect a non-cooperative human subject”. While the project brings to mind Terminators, there are also non-terrifying uses for these robots, including search and rescue missions. The robots should be about 100 kilograms or less, provide immediate feedback, and defer to a human operator in the event of a difficult decision. This project presents some interesting challenges for robot designers. They’ll need to consider several key issues, like robot cooperation and decision-making abilities. We knew it was only a matter of time before the DoD turned the Grand Challenge into Death Race.

[via Warren Ellis]


  1. Nemf0 says:


  2. rivetgeek says:


    Die. In. A. Fire.

  3. tony says:

    Get me the name of the person who designs this so when the computer becomes self aware, i can go back in time and kill them.

  4. Goon says:


  5. bazacko says:


  6. nick says:

    i have built robots before, this doesn’t seem quite hard. you could probably take that creepy hexapod and strap a 50cal to the top and give it basic thermal sensors. instant death machine. having machines hunt humans seem natural to me.

  7. t1000 says:

    you know army enrollment is low when…

  8. Atin says:

    If we’re lucky they will have major issues like ED-209 did.

    I’m hoping for that same, utter inability to take on stairs.

  9. Bear says:

    Want to place any bets on the outcome? Choices are Terminator, Johny Five, or Matrix type futures.

  10. _Matt says:

    too many all-terrain robots have a lot of common flaws, i’ll point out some good traits a s&r atr (search and rescue all-terrain robot) should have:

    -the entire unit placed in-between all wheels/treads, so that it can flip and still work, and be able to tackle small walls and tight spaces.
    -needs the ability to rotate on an axis, for tight spaces
    -skinny and low to the ground
    -some sort of audio/visual alerts, to let the rescuer know someone is in need, and the rescuee know that they’ve been found.
    -needs a defense mechanism? tasers come to mind…
    -reserves such as some water and non-perishable food, like astronaut food or something
    -some type of blanket for warmth and/or something to shield from a fire.
    -microphone that can detect a person’s voice over other noises.

    not required or recommend, but since it seems to be popular, it might as well be driven by an arduino or two.

  11. shadow says:

    Just write a program to detect turbans

  12. Nitori says:

    Actually this would be pretty easy to do.
    I’d start with some AVRs or PICs for low level control and a VIA mini-itx or small PPC board such as an Efika for high level control.
    A router with USB ports that can run linux also could be used for it’s brains.
    Also add remote control capability using a mobile broad band addapter.
    Though where it would likely be deployed there is no mobile broad band so you would be stuck with 802.11x or satellite uplink on a production robot.

    For people detection some PIR sensors , a few IR cameras and maybe also sonar.

  13. polymath says:

    This is great! Just one question though. What do we do when it’s robot against robot? If it comes to that the Japanese are going to rule the world. Ghost in the Shell anyone? Course I’ve yet to see that Honda robot handle an M60.

    Its going to take something like the robot from the movie red planet before we have an effective person hunting/killing robot, the decision to determine weather or not its a scared kid or a terrorist is hard enough for a human. Computers have a hard enough time picking out one person from another much less combatant from non-combatant.

    _matt hit the nail on the head with his list robots are still better for search and rescue than assault. especially if they start using swarm logic, “oh look, this soldier is leaking red stuff more than he’s shooting, hmm… band aid?”

  14. confusis says:

    needs a fear sensor :)

  15. cde says:

    @ ATIN, If daleiks are immune to stairs, I’m sure other killing machines can get around them. Also, why bother with stairs when you can just order a bombing of the house you made them run into.

  16. q says:

    If you build it, they will come

  17. schweineherbst says:

    that’s fucking disgusting.

  18. Aud1073cH says:

    hmmm, what can easily search for and detect humans, and is less than 100kg (about 220lbs) ?

    The military, and even local police use a much better, biological alternative already. Mankind has been using them for years.

    Just head to your local animal shelter. I’m sure you can find one that will lick your face, wag a tail, and poop in your yard.

  19. Robotnik says:

    “that’s fucking disgusting.

    Posted at 1:10 am on Nov 7th, 2008 by schweineherbst”

    No, that’s progress :)

  20. ragnar says:

    10) the inventor agrees to be used as testobject.

  21. deathsythe says:

    This is exactly the shit that I want to be doing when I start working for the dod after college.

  22. rb says:

    “I’m sure you can find one that will lick your face, wag a tail, and poop in your yard.”

    but can this cute ball of fluff brandish a 50cal?

  23. theTick197 says:

    “A robot to hunt humans”
    I thought they already have this. They have Dick Cheyney.

  24. damntech says:

    Maybe this is why reenlistment is way up. They expect to play with awesome military tech gear. :) Actually that’s an understatement we know the mil has some of the coolest gear and we are all jealous.

    ED-209 just needs to chill with the butterfly’s

  25. The Steven says:

    ….and so it begins.

  26. angus says:

    oh man…so now the army is putting civilians in charge of building a weapon against themselves. Can’t wait to see these roaming the streets in 20 years.

  27. featheredfrog says:

    No mention of “Screamers” yet? Yow.

  28. blankthemuffin says:


  29. ortzinator says:

    That picture is horribly misleading. the military does not attach weapons to autonomous robots

  30. alfantino says:

    at last, after the man tired killing the man, it will be continued by the robot to kill the man. The killing is the first human sin done by the son of adam and eva and it will be continued to the end of the human life.

  31. Jesse says:

    Just progress, I’d say. But I love their little “search and rescue applications” appeal to conscience. They always say that—but just as soon as they get their greedy hands on a new weapon app, it’s killy-killy time!

  32. Rasti says:

    If remote controlled, Govt can hire gamers of online Shooting games (those with high score)
    to control the killing machine without risk from teir homes, if the shooter starts to fail, it can be replaced by the next.
    They can even replace the remote shooter every hour to avoid fatigue an make the device work 24×7.
    Every time the shooter kills somebody, will receive instantly a payment via paypal/visa, etc.
    The shooters can even be tricked (if a VR interface with a lots of computer graphics overlayed is used) into false missions randomly, so they will not know for sure if they really
    kill somevody.
    This way Govt will avoid trials about psichological damage of the shooter, shooters feeling guilty, etc

    Of course my comment is ironic, but i think that somebody will put a project like this to work
    for sure.

  33. damntech says:

    Rasti, They already made that movie it was called “Toys” and it sucked.

  34. Bryan Thielbar says:

    ROFL NO! Will not build a real war bot… That’s why we have soldiers… I don’t belive that is even going to be legal, for the government to use in a war situation…

  35. CGann says:

    “That picture is horribly misleading. the military does not attach weapons to autonomous robots”

    Posted at 7:47 pm on Nov 7th, 2008 by ortzinator


    Do a quick google on “Boston Dynamics Big Dog” (YoutTube link-

    The multi-terrain platform is already there. Now it’s just the sensing hard/software. I say, start with thermal vision.

  36. apaco says:

    “Just head to your local animal shelter. I’m sure you can find one that will lick your face, wag a tail, and poop in your yard.”
    at least it won’t do this
    I’m sure you can find one that will lick your tail, wag a yard, and poop in your face.

  37. Obama says:

    I am barack obama and I approve this article

  38. benjaminvallen1 says:

    If their are multiple provisions in the base code that prevent the robot from targeting non-hostile people, this shouldn’t be a problem. If you slave that coding to an auto-shutdown, you should be able to render it useless if it tried to take unauthorized action.

    Sounds good to me.

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