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South Korea wants to build robot birds, snakes, and other animal-inspired 'biobots' within the next 5 years
If you thought that viral video of a dog-like robot opening doors was a bit to creepy for your liking, then fasten your fucking seatbelt: the South Korean military is getting serious about deploying mechanical birds, snakes, and other animal-inspired military robots downrange in the next five years, which sounds like a Transformers-inspired fever dream turned real.
South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reports that the government's Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) is actively pursuing the development of "biomimetic" robot systems designed to mirror the natural movements of animals and insects, with plans to field these "biobots" as early as 2024.
South Korea plans on producing biomimetic military robots based on the behavior of "humans and insects" in the next five years, DAPA told Yonhap, with robots that replicate the movements of "birds, snakes and other marine species" to join their fellow biobots in arsenals nationwide.
"Biometric robots will be a game changer in future warfare, and related technologies are expected to bring about great ripple effects throughout the defense industry," DAPA spokesman Park Jeong-eun told Yonhap on Sunday.
Applying the behaviors of animals to military robot design isn't new: As recently as 2017, the U.S. Army was hunting for so-called Adaptive Biomimetic Aircraft Structures (ABAS) for aircraft that could effectively transform mid-flight in order to enable "real-time, on-the-fly adaptation to configurations optimized for different flight conditions or missions, enhancing capability via gains in speed, range, and payload," according to the solicitation.
"Nature provides numerous examples of biological structures adapting to various environments and situations," the Army solicitation reads, per Defense Systems. "Mimicking these natural phenomena can inspire efficient structures enabling more capable, higher performance aircraft."
Let's be real, though: Transformers started out as a relatively innocuous Hasbro toy line (and infinitely badass 80s animated space opera), these military-grade murderbots are less likely to resemble Beast Wars than the modern-day manifestations of transforming robot animals dreamed up by Michael Bay — which are totally fucking horrifying.
Don't worry, though: Murderbots are a long ways off! According to The Telegraph, "[the] bird-like androids or swimming robots will be deployed to carry out reconnaissance operations, miniature mechanical flying devices will be able to provide information on the actions of an enemy force and robots that can move like a snake will be able to access constricted spaces."
So less Transformers and more Terminator, then. Cool. Cool cool cool. Cool.
NASA is reportedly investigating one of its astronauts in a case that appears to involve the first allegations of criminal activity from space.
Hackers could have breached US bioterrorism defenses for years, records show. We'll never know if they did
The Department of Homeland Security stored sensitive data from the nation's bioterrorism defense program on an insecure website where it was vulnerable to attacks by hackers for over a decade, according to government documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.
The data included the locations of at least some BioWatch air samplers, which are installed at subway stations and other public locations in more than 30 U.S. cities and are designed to detect anthrax or other airborne biological weapons, Homeland Security officials confirmed. It also included the results of tests for possible pathogens, a list of biological agents that could be detected and response plans that would be put in place in the event of an attack.
The information — housed on a dot-org website run by a private contractor — has been moved behind a secure federal government firewall, and the website was shut down in May. But Homeland Security officials acknowledge they do not know whether hackers ever gained access to the data.
The State Department doesn't really care if its human rights training for partner security forces is working or not
By law, the United States is required to promote "human rights and fundamental freedoms" when it trains foreign militaries. So it makes sense that if the U.S. government is going to spend billions on foreign security assistance every year, it should probably systematically track whether that human rights training is actually having an impact or not, right?
Apparently not. According to a new audit from the Government Accountability Office, both the Departments of Defense and State "have not assessed the effectiveness of human rights training for foreign security forces" — and while the Pentagon agreed to establish a process to do so, State simply can't be bothered.
A Kansas VA hospital police supervisor reported 'dangerous' deficiencies among his officers. Now he says he faced retaliation
The Kansas City VA Medical Center is still dealing with the fallout of a violent confrontation last year between one of its police officers and a patient, with the Kansas City Police Department launching a homicide investigation.
And now Topeka's VA hospital is dealing with an internal dispute between leaders of its Veterans Affairs police force that raises new questions about how the agency nationwide treats patients — and the officers who report misconduct by colleagues.
A New Mexico woman was charged Friday in the robbery and homicide of a Marine Corps veteran from Belen late last month after allegedly watching her boyfriend kill the man and torch his car to hide evidence.