back to article Flying-rifle robocopter: Hovering sniper backup for US troops

Flying killer robots are numerous these days. The machine flyboys are mostly armed with relatively light and precise weapons, but still in the tank- or anyway vehicle-busting league. Now, however, there's a droid whirlybird in development which is armed only with a sniper rifle intended to fire single aimed shots. The new …


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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Pain in the ARSS

    I can see it now, pager goes off, I roll out of bed, head for the basement, start the HDTV, XBOX and login. I am handed control, seek out my target, get the bad guy body count required for a successful mission. Get the awards, log off, time to make the trophy wife's coffee.

    That's enough for the basis of a movie.

  3. Joel


    Check out the pop-mech article, see "Other Possible Weapons for the ARSS"


    I just can't figure out why they didn't offer tear GAS ass a choice!

  4. DutchOven

    I'm sure this will come in handy.... time they fabricate an excuse to invade a 3rd world country.

    They can hover over the citizens, showing their ARSS to everyone

  5. M

    Hmm...Xbox controller?

    I think I would prefer a keyboard and high resolution mouse. There is also a great bit in Ghost in the Shell where they have the helicoper snipers!

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Xbox controller?

    All the enemy has to do is get their own snipercopter and use a mouse and keyboard for control. Terrorists win!

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Where are the frickin laserz?

  8. Andrew
    Thumb Up

    Just imagine...

    ...a fleet of ARSS controlled by an AC-130 Spectre/Spooky.

    *dreamily reminisces about playing 1942 with both wingmen powered up*

  9. Paul Murphy

    So if I shoot one down do I get a free rifle?

    Just asking, since it would seem to me to be a good way to up the terrorists ffirepower.

    I wonder how long it'll be until all wars are fought by computer and people just carry on their lives - until the computer decides that you were in the wrong place and time and can you please step into the chamber now??


  10. Anthony Eeles

    With a sniper system called ARSS

    I wonder if they have to compensate for wind...?

    Mines the one made of composite materials hovering at 15000 feet.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    There is some synergy between all of these potential solutions?

    How about a tracked (or static) sniper vehicle that can be pre-positioned where it is needed. Maybe even droned into place exposing vulnerable softskinned assets to slightly less risk?

    Then: why stop at sniping?

  12. Mark


    Whilst I acknowledge some of the claimed benefits I'm left wondering how advantageous they are versus how much of a kit purchasing pork barrel this is.

    For this craft to be of any use it would surely need to have a sniper-like range (barrel to target). Therefore the craft would be a reasonable size - possibly human torso sized in order to carry the kit and handle the recoil.

    Thus it would be a sizable target in itself. As it has to fly it's therefore a good sized target in good visibility and vulnerable to enemy ground fire is it not?

    Like I said, I can see some benefits (possibly) but I'm not sure they're as concrete or of a scale that the salespeople will doubtlessly state.

  13. Captain DaFt

    I can see it now...

    "They've got us pinned down sarge, what'll we do?"

    "Well don't just sit there, private, stick your ARSS in the air!"

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re:Paul Murphy

    Ah, but if you shoot one down and steal the rifle then that will make you an ARSS Bandit - not a moniker most people would be happy with!

  15. Adrian Esdaile

    Did someone say 'overwatch'?

    Outbreak! Outbreak! Outbreak!

    I think I prefer to stay inside....

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Skynet's killbots are a step closer.

    Just remember the 1st commandment; Thy shalt not make a machine in the image of a man's mind.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Benefits


    "For this craft to be of any use it would surely need to have a sniper-like range (barrel to target). Therefore the craft would be a reasonable size - possibly human torso sized in order to carry the kit and handle the recoil."

    Ah, no. Because it's smaller than a traditional sniper (not to mention sniper+copter combo), it can get closer to the target while still presenting a smaller target to the person it's trying to kill.

    So no, it certainly doesn't need a sniper-like range.

  18. Cameron Colley

    I bet they chose this name carefully too.

    I can see it now...

    Marketing Guy 1: What do we call it then?

    MG2: Well, it's an Autonomous Sniper System isn't it?

    MG1: But we can't call it that, dumbass, it spells ASS.

    M2: Dang, how about we add a letter? I know, it's on a helicopter, how about Autonomous Helicopter Sniper System?

    MG1: Still sounds too much like Ass -- let's call it Autonomous Rotary Sniper System, nobody could possible think that sounds like Ass.

    MG2: High 5! Good one Brett!

  19. Andy

    Outstanding work US Gov.

    If it saves lives and removes *real* problems it's a good thing.

    It's kind of a fate accompli that this would happen anyway, I just wonder how they mitigate for the recoil of the barrel.

    If it's used to control peaceful people, however, it's a bad thing and there's nothing that you, the Septics or anyone else can do about it.

  20. Dcope

    re:Pain in the ARSS

    I've often thought about this, how long before they throw a 3d game simulation game of one of these on the web e.g. Americas Army and those who attain a certain score/awards get the opportunity to fly for real? just think about the hordes of reflex trained armchair hero's around the world

  21. storng.bare.durid

    Can you imagine...

    Tony Soprano with a DIY hobby chopper mounted with a cam and a glock?

  22. Andus McCoatover
    Black Helicopters

    Vigilante slideset (PDF)

    Nice to see (slide 11) it runs on 'any PC using Linux'

    So, what's all this Xbox malarkey?

  23. crypt

    Since when did phillip k dick...

    Since when did phillip k dick start controlling reality-

    Concerned the combination of seemingly unrelated technoligies :

    more and more human looking japaneese robots + incresingly sophisticated killing drones

    = 2nd variety!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    So the next megalomaniac empire building world leader will command a swarm of miniature disposable flying kill bots.

    How long will it be before an anonymous hacking collective takes over the world and executes any comentard who fails to use the PH icon?

  25. Anonymous Coward

    "I still have the greatest confidence in the mission, Dave..."

    @ Crypt - the XBox 'malarkey' is down to a common misconception - that Micro$loth invented the multi-function hand controller.

    McDonnel Douglas Helicopters and Boing Helicopters have both been working on unmanned rotorcraft for years; Boing even got as far as letting Delta Force play with one (allegedly) - based on the UH6/MD500 (Little Bird) chassis.

    But does this mean they have found a way round the UN trying to get armed UAVs counted as Cruise Missiles, and therefore subject to some gnarly restrictions on their use?

    Mine's the one with the 656Sqn badges on the sleeves

  26. Yorkshirepudding

    dual shock 3?

    what no sixaxis tomfoolery?

    mines the one with the killzone 2 air droid beacon in it

  27. relpy
    Thumb Up


    How high can this thing fly? - if it can hover at 2k+ altitude directly above it's target and shoot straight down then range is not a problem. The guys on the wrong end of it probably can't even see it let alone engage it.

    Thumbs up in Roman Emporer style.

  28. Michael
    Black Helicopters

    Where's the Father Jack referrences?

    Nice acronym.... puts "Blue Thunder " in a totally new area.

    am now eagerly awaiting the "Freeflying Enhanced Copter Killer"


  29. Steve K
    Black Helicopters

    @ Dcope

    Wasn't that the plot of the 1980's childrens' film "The Last Starfighter"....?

  30. Dan


    Re: AC 10:42 "Boing Helicopters"

    Heh...thats a great image, bouncy rubber helipcopters.

    Coming in for landing now......BOING.....mayday myday.

  31. John F***ing Stepp

    Well, when we invade other planets. . .

    Get your ARSS to mars!

    (thanks crypt.)

  32. Oninoshiko
    Black Helicopters

    Re: I still have the greatest confidence....

    Sure, It's call "ignoring." You would be suprised how well it works!

  33. Iain

    @Andus McCoatover

    The computer may be running Linux, but the soldier holds a 360 pad in his hands when using it. They're comfortable, half the US Army are such Halo addicts that they know the controls almost instinctively, incredibly cheap to buy and replace in comparison to whatever solution the Army developed on its own would be, and the standard USB wiring (or wireless if you'd rather) means the interface is a doddle, too.

  34. Osiris
    Thumb Up

    Do terrorists watch Father Ted?

    "FECK! Look out! It's an ARSS!"

  35. Dcope

    @Steve K

    "Wasn't that the plot of the 1980's childrens' film "The Last Starfighter"....?"

    well almost but with this they could pipe the live stream from the drone direct to your own computer screen as the AC said at the top, no need to fly across the galaxy and sit in a prototype and be shot at buy the entire opposing fleet , while you wait for them to get in range of your really super duper weapons system, you could just sit in your pants sipping coffee and head shoting the enemy of the day. gives a whole new term to bonus level.

  36. Jon Smit

    We've had ARRS for years

    British Army Rumour Service. Twice as deadly, ten times more accurate as any septic robot.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @marc - Platform specs

    The Pop Mech article lists the specs as:

    " + Max Weight: 1100 pounds + Length: 26 feet + Rotor Diameter: 23 feet + Top Speed: 117 mph + Payload: 150 pounds + Fuel Capacity: 36 gallons + Flight Time: 6-plus hours"

    Not your average RC chopper by any means.....

  38. Anonymous Coward

    Of course it is good to ava larf

    ... but remember when you are reaching for the coffee pot/kettle or maybe the pencil sharpener is the riskiest bit of kit in the office apart from the line manager's tongue that there are some seriously responsible and brave people putting their own lives at risk for the sake of something they think is worth protecting and being placed at ultimate risk.

    Sorry to be a killjoy - hope you don't get a paper cut at the printer ;-)

  39. Mark

    @Re: Benefits

    "Ah, no. Because it's smaller than a traditional sniper (not to mention sniper+copter combo), it can get closer to the target while still presenting a smaller target to the person it's trying to kill.

    So no, it certainly doesn't need a sniper-like range."

    My point was that if it needs to get closer than a traditional sniper it is therefore within the range of one. If it's to be small enough to not present a reasonable target to a non-sniper (M16 wielding or equivalent) it's going to be pretty small, need to get damn close and therefore be carrying a much punier weapon. Its lethal range with a rifle and it's size will be intrinsically linked due to recoil and weight etc.

    It's all about trade-offs and if that platform spec given above is true it ain't exactly stealth personified. More like a hovering Reaper drone without the range - unless you fit a bloody great barrel + high speed round to it.

  40. David Wilkinson

    Cheaper than a real soldier ...

    Ignoring the value of human life (easy to do in warfare) .. a man on the ground is a huge investment in training, logistics, and potential medical care.

    Anyway if you are sending in a bunch of men on the ground ... and you fly in a bunch of robot helicopter snipers ... its a good thing if the enemy is shooting at the robots instead of the guys in the ground. Both in human and in monetary terms.

  41. Raptor007
    Black Helicopters

    An Xbox controller is not ideal...

    They would be way better off controlling this thing with a keyboard & mouse.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't this?

    Wasn't this thing in Ghost in the Shell? I seem to recall it was rather effective.

  43. John Smith Gold badge

    Like for like comparison?

    "first-shot kills are expected at several hundred metres"

    Does anyone know what sort of range a human in a chopper can manage?

    All I know is the current record is 2460m for a shot in the Afghan mountains (ElReg report on DARPA smart bullets). I'm guessing that putting sniper on a wobbly platform like a chopper would cut the maximum range in half.

    I note that the software on this is by SAIC, known for its long good relations with Uncle Sam and fondness for hiring various ex military and law enforcement types. So expect a hefty price tag on it.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Blue On Blue

    The Americans never make mistakes, this sounds like a machine designed to enhance that reputation.

  45. mittfh
    Black Helicopters


    Imagine this for a movie plot:

    They tell you you're playing a simulation game...

    You notice the images and the blood look very realistic for a game...

    But you just put that down to a very good effort on the part of the developer.

    But there's a reason why they look so realistic...

    They *are* real...

    What they haven't told you is you're actually flying the real thing...

  46. Mr Mark V Thomas
    Black Helicopters

    Leathal Toys ?

    Re: last post

    Yes, but how many points do you get for trashing a Volvo...?

    (As I recall, that was part of the Plot for the Robin Williams/LL Cool J 1991 film Toys, after Michael Gambon's character, a ex-U.S Army General has taken over the Toy factory, & started producing a far more destructive military orientated product, piloted by children)

  47. Ben Brandwood


    So pretty much the plot of Ender's Game then?

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