While it's always bittersweet to report on the latest advancements in autonomous military killbots, the one upside to Foster-Miller's most recent heavily-armed robotic platform is that it possesses enhanced safeguards to minimize incidences of friendly fire or civilian casualties. That being said, QinetiQ's SWORDS-smith is still touting the improved "lethality" of its new MAARS chassis (Modular Advanced Armed Robotic System), a 350-pound PackBot-type unit that, unlike its predecessor, was built from the ground up with murder in its heart. Its M240B Medium Machine Gun is more powerful than SWORDS' M249, although redesigned software and a mechanical range fan are said to bolster safety by delineating live fire zones and keeping barrels pointed away from allied positions, respectively. A final precaution precludes the bots from firing directly at their control units -- a feature that will provide little solace to the MAARS controller whose charge has just pulled a 180 after being hacked by enemy forces. For a short video of the new bot still under friendly control, keep reading after the break...

[Via Danger Room and The Raw Feed]