The Machine Soldier: An Analysis of Unmanned Ground Vehicles on the Battlefield of Tomorrow; The Humanitarian Impact of the Machine Warfighter

Hails, Alexander, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Vrugtman, Rosanne, EN-Comp Science Dept, University of Virginia
Francisco, Pedro Augusto, EN-Engineering and Society, University of Virginia

The technical research is an analysis of an internship program spent developing scouting technology for unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) for the use of deployment on the battlefield. This was conducted through a recounting of my experience and a detailing of the research procedure. As these robots grow in their ability, so too do they grow in scope. These UGVs now sees use in high impact battlefield use cases like reconiassence and bomb defusal. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the design process that motivates these machines is invaluable. This field leaves room for much work to be done in the STS space, due to the large scope and the relative infancy of the technology in military contexts. Actor Network Theory can be used, in similar fashion to the STS research paper, to analyze the scene in which these systems are developed and the relationships between the actors to further the understanding of the benefits and pitfalls surrounding the field.
The STS research was conducted via literature review, policy analysis and Actor Network Theory. The goal of the research is to holistically view the development and deployment pipeline of military robotics, specifically unmanned robots, to determine how and where ethical responsibility lies. I expect to find that it lies with many more actors than many may initially suspect. The STS and the capstone research are tightly coupled, in that the experience in the capstone research sparked many of the questions analyzed in the STS. In creating these systems it is important to consider the ethical responsibilities of one’s self as the developer, but also the responsibilities of other in the sphere. A deeper understanding of the relationship between all actors in the network can lead to a final product which can bring about more good than harm.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
UGV, Military Robotics, Actor Network Theory

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Computer Science
Technical Advisor: Vrugtman, Rosanne
STS Advisor: Francisco, Pedro

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