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. Australia says developing military robots
SYDNEY (AFP) Aug 17, 2005
Australia said Wednesday it was developing battlefield robots capable of military operations that could free soldiers from some dangerous tasks.

"These new intelligent and largely autonomous systems will in the future be able to carry out hazardous tasks traditionally reserved for warfighters," Defence Minister Robert Hill said.

The government was investing increasing amounts in the research and development of "battlespace" technology that can be deployed on land, sea and air, he said.

"In the future, unmanned battlespace vehicles will be deployed in fleets to gather information, conduct surveillance, sweep for mines, defuse bombs and carry out a range of dangerous tasks."

The robots include a land vehicle capable of navigating difficult terrain while carrying supplies or conducting reconnaissance missions, and an underwater craft known as Wayamba for surveillance and mine detection.

A remote-controlled aircraft built by Australian company Aerosonde is capable of intelligence gathering and "electronic warfare" such as radar jamming, Hill said.

There are around 52,000 personnel in the Australian armed forces. The country's defence budget last year was 16.6 billion dollars.

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