January 23, Associated Press Armed robotic vehicles headed for Iraq combat. The U.S. Army is preparing to send 18 remote−controlled robotic warriors to fight in Iraq beginning in
March or April. The Special Weapons Observation Reconnaissance Detection Systems(SWORDS), will be the first armed robotic vehicles to see combat. Military officials like to compare the roughly three−foot−high robots favorably to human soldiers: They don't need to be trained, fed or clothed. They can be boxed up and warehoused between wars. But officials are quick to point out that these are not the autonomous killer robots of science fiction. A SWORDS robot shoots only when its human operator presses a button after identifying a target on video shot by the robot's cameras. The SWORDS' developers say its tracks, like those on a tank, can overcome rock piles and barbed wire, though it needs a ride to travel faster than 4 mph. Running on lithium ion batteries, it can operate for one to four hours at a time, depending on the mission. The Army has been testing it over the past year at Picatinny and the Aberdeen 2 Proving Grounds in Maryland to ensure it won't malfunction and can stand up to radio jammers and other countermeasures.