When Robots Attack
There's been quite a bit of net buzz recently (as in, the past few years) about robots in military and law-enforcement roles. In theory, at least, it makes sense to keep those with parents or children out of harm's way, leaving the dangerous stuff to those with no family members, only adjoining serial numbers.
Indeed, robotics are more in play today than many even realize: automated targeting, mapping and serveillance bots, either built into existing equipment or roving on their own, are firmly a part of modern action plans.
But what happens when good robots go bad? It's often floated around as a theory ("My PC crashes every ten seconds-- thank heavens it doesn't have a rocket launcher"), but the actual risk is all too real, as teh South African Defense Force found out:
The National Defence Force is probing whether a software glitch led to an antiaircraft cannon malfunction that killed nine soldiers and seriously injured 14 others during a shooting exercise on Friday.
SA National Defence Force spokesman brigadier general Kwena Mangope says the cause of the malfunction is not yet known and will be determined by a Board of Inquiry. The police are conducting a separate investigation into the incident.
Media reports say the shooting exercise, using live ammunition, took place at the SA Army's Combat Training Centre, at Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape, as part of an annual force preparation endeavour.
Mangope told The Star that it “is assumed that there was a mechanical problem, which led to the accident. The gun, which was fully loaded, did not fire as it normally should have," he said. "It appears as though the gun, which is computerised, jammed before there was some sort of explosion, and then it opened fire uncontrollably, killing and injuring the soldiers."
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) has appointed a high level board of enquiry to investigate the death of nine soldiers who died during a training exercise.
The soldiers died during the SANDF's annual "Exercise Seboka" at the Army Combat Training Centre in Lohatlha, in the Northern Cape on Friday.
Brigadier General Kwena Mangope told BuaNews that investigations could start either on Tuesday or Wednesday.
"All the members of the board of enquiry are ready to start with the inquiry," said Brigadier General Mangope.
"We are currently engaged with the families to find out what funeral arrangements they would prefer," he said.