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Octocopter Drones, Now with Added Guns

August 10, 2017

Say hello to TIKAD, or, as its maker Duke Robotics likes to call it, the Future Soldier. For TIKAD is no regular octocopter drone: it can carry weapons, like semi-automatic guns and 40mm grenades. From a technical perspective, it’s rather impressive. Duke says that it has “developed stabilization technology that enables TIKAD to absorb the recoil” of the powerful weapons. That’s no mean feat on a relatively lightweight aircraft that appears to share more in common with consumer quadcopters than the large, winged drones that the U.S. military has used to devastating effect in recent years.

Still, make no mistake, this isn’t just an exploration in engineering—it's a machine that’s designed to kill. “TIKAD allows governments to utilize completely new capabilities against terrorist groups,” explains Duke. And it will likely find itself deployed against the sorts of extremists, like ISIS, that are already using quadcopters and octocopters in the battlefields themselves. As for concerns about how these kinds of weaponized unmanned vehicles could go rogue? TIKAD is remote-controlled, not autonomous—so for now, at least, the shots are called by the operator.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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