Admit it: you can’t wait until wars are fought not by puny humans but by legions of giant heavily-armed death-dealing robots. It’s ok, I can’t either. Luckily, the world is much closer to witnessing Robogeddon thanks to the good ol’ United States military industrial complex.

The U.S. Marine Corps have begun testing a killer robot equipped with a belt-fed M240 machine gun, cameras, and high-tech surveillance equipment. The robotic gun-on-wheels can travel on tank treads at a high speed of 7 mph (11 kph), fast enough to walk alongside Marine infantry units. If soldiers happen to get wounded in battle, their friendly robotic soldiers can drag them to safety or shield fallen soldiers. The deathbot is called the Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System, or MAARS, and is currently being field tested.

A U.S. marine fires an M240 machine gun. Little does he know his job will soon be given to a robot.

Infantry troops from America’s 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines have already taken MAARS on patrol training exercises at the Marines’ Camp Pendleton, and the next phase of testing will involve live fire exercises. Another larger format of MAARS is in development, called RVM/CART. This larger version is equipped the terrifying M134 minigun, a bullet hose capable of firing up to 3,000 rounds per minute.

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Marines walk alongside MAARS in a training exercise.

MAARS requires a human operator (for now, puny humans), and engineers still haven’t designed a robotic warrior that can be used in rough terrain. Once the robotic gunslinger has expended all of the ammo for its totally awesome machine gun, a human has to reload for it. How embarrassing. For now, the robot will be used in applications such as traveling alongside supply convoys or accompanying soldiers on foot patrols.

We've still got a few years before the streets of Detroit get cleaned up by autonomous gun bots.

While the development and testing of MAARS marks a milestone in robotic infantry weapons, the age of autonomous robot wars is still only the stuff of dreams - well, my dreams anyway. At least we have the upcoming Japan-U.S. giant robot fight to look forward to:


Brett Tingley

Brett Tingley is a writer and musician living in the ancient Appalachian mountains.

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