back to article US Army proto-Dalek combat robots enter testing

Monster Pentagon contractors Boeing and SAIC jointly announced today that two of their latest offerings for the future robot armies of America have entered military testing early. The machines in question are a relatively dull lightweight groundcrawler job and a frankly splendid ducted-fan flying Dalek. The two mechanoid …


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  1. teacake


    [sad mode] You haven't seen Genesis of the Daleks have you, Lewis? The dalek (or "Travel Machine") was created to mobilise and protect the horrible mutated aliens (and arm them to the teeth), not as a remote battlefield weapon. It's a bit like postulating unmanned personnel carriers. [/sad mode]

  2. BossHog
    Thumb Up


    RC flying combat droids - surely *the* present for xmas 2008?

  3. Nic Brough

    Find the nearest Dr Who geek

    I guess you missed Genesis of the Daleks? Davros specifically engineered the (human with dodgy 70s makeup) Kaleds into the green blobs we all know and love to hate, and then built the Dalek machine specifically for them. No remote control, it was designed symbiotically from day 1.

    On the other hand, if you'd mentioned Cybermen, they had little remote control silver rat things that were more than capable of jumping on an assistant and making her scream until someone found the nail-polish-remover or a handy lump of gold...

  4. John Ferris

    Umm, even sadder

    [verysad] And as far as the Daleks are concerned, they were deliberately mutated by Davros, a research scientist, in order to achieve his aims. Now makes me wonder about all this human / animal embryo work they are looking at. At least the US is ahead of Davros in one thing, his daleks took about 10 series to learn to fly...


  5. Lewis Page (Written by Reg staff)

    Where did Davros get his initial designs?

    Bound to have adapted something already existing, you'd think. Such as a military recon drone ... go on, fall into my trap again.


  6. Gianni Straniero
    Black Helicopters

    MAV - planetary explorer?

    In addition to scaring the bejeesus out of enemy combatants, couldn't this flying dustbin be used on the next generation of missions to Mars? Stick a bigger fan on it to compensate for the thinner atmosphere and away you go. It's got to be quicker than rolling those super-slow-mo golf carts around the planet. Real-time piloting might be a bit tricky, of course, with a round-trip signal time of 10 minutes or more...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    More likely

    we could assume that the early prototype travel machines had other methods of control than a dalek sitting inside them since the life support functions would have been added later. That said the weaponry was added after the life support and was a suprise to Davros' own scientists.

    In short humans are outdoing daleks in terms of violent tendencies here.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's that noise...?

    Suppose it'll be OK with a quiet zero point energy fueled anti-gravity engine, but surely stealthing across enemy territory would be a bit err...noisy at the mo.

    Mind you, would mind strapping a seat to one and using it for commuting.

  9. Niall Campbell

    Repulsive Alien Mutants...

    Doesn't that term apply to all military leaders from any country?

    The only thing you can ever say about military leaders is that when the proverbial hits the fa, they are safely to the rear. All this means that they can be even safer in their bunkers while it is the tech guy who is danger, repairing these misguided scifi specials!

  10. Adam Foxton

    Sadder Still

    Actually, there was remote control of a sort over the Daleks- remote enabling/disabling of features, voice command, etc. Again, from Genesis of the Daleks:

    "And now, I shall turn the machine over to Total Self Control". Suggesting that Davros was in control prior to that point

    And to teacake, t'was the Mark 3 Travel Machine.

    Mine's the bonded polycarbide battle armour, thanks. TAXI!

  11. Kane Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Hold on right there a second!

    <RPG>I thought the Daleks (inside the dustbins) were all genetically engineered! A predisposition to hate everything else in existence that wasn't a Dalek, and so therefore became the most bloodthirsty race in the universe to discover the use of toilet plumbing equipment as weapons of destruction!</RPG>

    Paris Hilton angle?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Dodgy HTML

    I think the real question is, why the heck won't Firefox recognise <grenade> tags? Perfectly acceptable HTML to my eyes. Enquiring minds want to know...

  13. Graham Bartlett
    Black Helicopters


    It certainly would be a cunning plan to use these on Mars, were it not for a Baldrick-sized problem - refuelling. By definition, keeping something in the air uses more energy than letting it sit on the ground. These things need an operator to pour a new bottleful of jet fuel into them every so often, which isn't so practical when they go to Mars and the nearest operator is a few million miles away. Even the Mars Rovers have power limitations with their solar panels that restrict what they can do. Trying to use solar panels to power a helicopter is basically a non-starter, I'm afraid.

    Helicopter icon for obvious reasons... :-)

  14. John Paul McAuley

    <grenade> tags?

    <grenade> tags?

    after reading you post anon, i loaded it in IE. it doesnt recognise them either.

  15. Kane Silver badge

    More to the point....

    ...why are my <RPG></RPG> tags not working? Perfectly acceptable HTML, in my 'umble opinionations!

    Yes, mines the one with the dodgy green camo and the ammo bandoliers...

  16. Paul F

    @ Gianni

    Air density is a real problem. Mars has 1% the atmospheric density of Earth, so the rotors / fans would have to be huge. Granted you have some help from the lower gravity (38% Earth's) but your mass remains constant so control is an issue due to inertia. You'd have blades rotating at extreme velocities, barely catching air, and be unable to redirect your course due to inertia. It's much harder to shove the thing where you'd want to go. There'd be a huge amount of wasted energy even trying.

    The rovers, on the other hand, run on less power than it takes to run a light bulb for a day.

    I've read that NASA is working on something that could fly on Mars, but so far it's more on Dragonfly model than on a hoverbot. Of course it may have to hover somewhat, because a normal landing at velocity would result in a crash. 38% gravity isn't much to get purchase with for tires or skids. Again, inertia would be the problem.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rise of the machines

    No really. When this is all in place who is going to be able to resist the yanks then?

  18. Mr Chris

    Dalek? No.

    It's an imperial probe droid.

    It's a good bet the Empire knows we're here.

  19. Andrew Tyler

    Buzz-Saw Balls

    Speaking of Doctor Who, one of those new ones had those little floaty ball things with the head inside and the buzz saws- they probably had a name. Anyways, I'm reminded of that scene where a great dimensional crack opens in the sky and millions of those little computer-animated things come pouring out to enslave humanity.

    I saw an army robot once on youtube that was basically a remote controlled helicopter with an automatic shotgun attached. Imagine if they could attach a shotgun to these, produce them in the hundred-thousands and then just unleash them in a magnificent deadly swarm on an enemy urban environment to corner, retinal scan, and do some calculations to decide whether the subject needs some shotgunning.

    We wouldn't need soldiers anymore. Wouldn't need people at all. I give it forty years, tops. If you could produce them in the millions, whomever controls the software could rule the world. Even better than Daleks.

    If you're an embedded systems programmer, I recommend getting a job with the US Army as soon as possible- only way to be safe. Put in a good word for me.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Genetic Manipulation

    Mycho - In short humans are outdoing daleks in terms of violent tendencies here.

    Not really, Davros had to genetically manipulate the Kaleds to have their violent Universe domineering attitude. Humans are miles off that yet. There will have to be significant research and modification of the Genome before we have the need to go wiping out everything that's not like us...

    Oh, hang on...

  21. MD Rackham

    @ Jesus Puncher

    Don't worry, we'll first start by turning them on ourselves, or at least those among us who believe in abominations like evolution, global warming, habeas corpus, and not torturing people.

    Then we'll try to let them loose on the rest of the world, but at that point there won't be anyone left who's intelligent enough to build them.

  22. Joseph Zygnerski

    @ Buzz-Saw Balls

    They were called "Toclafane" (I did have to look that up). A bit like Imperial probe droids. And they had bits of people in them, too, so not quite a match.

    Though, with all the cloning going on, how long till we stick people brains inside our robots. Seems to be progressing faster than AI....

    Mine's the one that looks like a pepper-shaker, thanks. Saves me from having to catch the bus...

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Yes and no. The Daleks were mutated by a nuklear war and then modified in more subtle ways by Davros so as to ensure their survival (ie so they want to kill everything that may one day be a threat and then the rest to be on the safe side)

    For a genius Davros seemed remarkably dense in not realising that he wasn't a Dalek and thus would fall foul of this.

  24. Dave Bell


    My cat wants to play with the thing.

  25. Morely Dotes

    @ Gianni Straniero

    Your idea of aerial travel for mapping the Marian surface has enough merit that it's already been (more or less) developed by NASA. However, something requiring no refueling is perforce going to be extremely light-weight and flimsy by normal Earth standards (and probably won't survive the first windstorm encountered on Mars, either).

    A balloon, however, while not really steerable, would serve admirably for atmospheric surveys, just as they do on Earth. Our own stratosphere is then enough to simulate the Martian atmosphere, so we have plenty of experience with such devices.

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Dr. Who? Not in my America!

    All this talk about Daleks is silly. As *American* robots these machines will behave as follows:

    Power-up: shouts "By your command!"

    Combat mode: shouts "Crush! Kill! Destroy!"

    Recon mode: shouts "Danger Will Robinson!"

    Power-down: shouts "Kiss my shiny metal ass!"

    And they can't survive a debate with William Shatner...

  27. Matt


    Let me know when get them in stock ;)

  28. lglethal Silver badge

    Let em be the first

    To welcome our new dalek-esque overlords!

  29. lglethal Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Kinda useful..... maybe

    These could be good because the "good guys" can fly them around and when the "bad guys" get worried about being spotted by the flying daleks they'll start shooting at them which should alert the "good guys" to were they are.

    Or they might just alert the "bad guys" that the "good guys" are near by and give them time to ambush/retreat/set trap, etc...

    (Note use of quotation marks....)

  30. Jim Lewis


    I can help you out there:

    "Good guys", people that can afford them

    "Bad guys", people that can't

    So just another tool to maintain the status quo then.

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