While these days robotics are no stranger to the battlefield, the UK Ministry of Defence is hoping to take things a step further with its "Grand Challenge" competition, which aims to bring autonomous, information-gathering robots to urban warfare situations. Fourteen teams have been picked as finalists, and the true test will come next summer when the robots roll into Copehill Down, an urban warfare training center built during the Cold War, and duke it out with mock targets. The MoD's hope is for a robot to be able to identify potential snipers, enemy vehicles and other human threats, with a minimum of human guidance, and then report that information back to ground troops gearing up for an assault. Approaches to the challenge include miniature unmanned planes and copters equipped with high-def cameras, and combination setups that include ground units with radar and thermal detection along with aerial units. Points will be awarded for accuracy of recon and autonomy, and the winning team will receive a fancy trophy and military funding. The robots are in it for the glory and the hefty retirement benefits.

[Via BBC News]

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UK's MoD Grand Challenge inciting robo-warfare next summer