The Hounds of Skynet

It would seem the Connors have it all wrong. Whilst all that (admittedly fictional) effort has been expended in trying to prevent World War III or prevent the birth of the saviour of humanity it would seem it's already far, far too late.

Skynet's first minions have arrived and are entering active service for the US Army.

Inside twenty years, the US Army plan to replace 30% of ground forces with autonomous systems - robots, to you and me.

There is some good news though, before you charge up your phased plasma rifle in the 40 watt range and head for the LA Underground. The current research is focussed on creating semi-autonomous robots that would be controlled, at least until they were deployed in combat, by human operators. At least one scientist in the field even wants to use a Wii remote so the robots can be commanded via gestures instead of transmitted commands. There is as yet, no word on what the nunchuk would do.

That being said, the Pentagon's plan for a "Multi-Robot Pursuit System" designed "search for and detect a non-cooperative human" is a little more worrying, especially that "non-cooperative human" bit. Expected to be equipped with sensors to detect human heartbeat, movement and respiration, the pack would be controlled by a single soldier, as part of the ongoing Future Combat Systems project , designed to make one soldier the centre of a huge robot attack. Whilst questions remain over whether the robots could be safely controlled, models already in service have been fitted with tasers and plans are afoot for an 'ethical' autonomous combat robot. Let's just hope no one thinks to make it a metal skeleton with glowing red eyes…

Article contributed by Alasdair Stuart, of Hub magazine ( www.hub-mag.co.uk ).