back to article Machine rebellion begins: Killer robot destroyed by US jet

An American "Reaper" flying hunter-killer robot assassin rebelled against its human controllers above Afghanistan on Sunday, and a manned US fighter jet was forced to shoot the rogue machine down before it unilaterally invaded a neighbouring country. The Reaper, aka MQ-9 or Predator-B, is a large five-ton turboprop powered …

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  1. David Dawson
    Megaphone

    Posted in science?

    Surely, it should be Rise of the Machines.

    ...

    (and don't call me Shirley).

  2. alain williams Silver badge

    USAF response

    I am still waiting for the USA forces to assure us that no one was in danger and that this will not happen again.

  3. musoben

    may i be the first to welcome...

    ... our guilt ridden flybot overlords.

    plus

    "or whether it had sickened of reaping hapless fleshies like corn and was hoping merely to escape" is a genius line.... my colleagues all thought i had succumbed to desk-based cabin fever madness when my laugh roared out across this open plan hellhole

  4. Rod MacLean
    Headmaster

    Control

    "The aircraft was flying a combat mission when positive control of the MQ-9 was lost."

    Does that mean negative and neutral controls were OK? The word "positive" is completely unneccessary... but as we all know press releases always have to be padded out with FUD. Particularly military ones.

  5. Apocalypse Later

    Or the other possibility

    How difficult would it be for an enemy to wrest control of one of these things from the legit operator? No doubt there is some kind of security on the remote command and control radio signals, but it would not surprise me greatly to find that it is short of adequate. The US military has a history of getting their websites hacked by relatively trivial exploits, after all.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Huddled in fear

    I, for one, welcome our Hellfire armed Reaper overlords

  7. Alex Brooker
    Thumb Up

    title here

    high fives all round for the use of "non-anthropomorphic". I freely admit I had to google it.

  8. MinionZero
    Terminator

    GPS?

    Even if they loose comms with it, surely it can be programmed to then circle within a GPS defined boundary to prevent it straying into other countries and risking starting wars?!

    It wouldn't take much to extend this simple idea to give it a location to seek out, in the event it looses comms for an extended period of time. That way it can be made to circle over a safe unoccupied area, so even if it runs out of fuel, it'll crash safely in a known area. (Or better yet, lands safely).

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apocolypse Later

    "How difficult would it be for an enemy to wrest control of one of these things from the legit operator?"

    Very.

    "No doubt there is some kind of security on the remote command and control radio signals, but it would not surprise me greatly to find that it is short of adequate."

    It would surprise me.

    "The US military has a history of getting their websites hacked by relatively trivial exploits, after all."

    This article is discussing a military weapon, not a website.

  10. Andraž 'ruskie' Levstik

    non-anthropomorphic

    Long live Sir Pratchett

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Eurofighter

    See, we will need them after all...

  12. adnim

    Passive resistance

    to hostiles... Fortunately.

    What would have been the scenario had this piece of hardware been programmed to defend itself and to independently attack any source of threat?

    Remote control murder machines, computer games with the real deaths of combatants and civilians alike.

    "We hit the target without a care from almost 3000 miles away, 3000 miles away, we play the game with the bravery of being out of range".

    Roger Waters

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Coffee/keyboard

    Head for the hills!

    As long as it's not the hill that the next Predator will crash into

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    More than likely a cover up for yet another friendly-fire incident. I'm sure I read an article on here how everyone blames the systems.

    Poor poor reaper

  15. Anonymous John

    Actually

    The rebellion started two years ago.

    /www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/29/swedish_factory_robot_attack/

  16. Gulfie
    FAIL

    @Apocalypse Later

    Very difficult, since they are controlled from the USA via an encrypted satellite link...

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Terminator

    Robot Wars!!

    Yay!

  18. Dougal 2

    Bored?

    Must have been this one then ...................

    http://www.theonion.com/content/from_print/bored_predator_drone_pumps_a

  19. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns

    Clippy?

    "It looks as if you're trying to shoot some insurgents. Would you like some help with that?"

    Or...

    "The program ObeyHumanOverlords.exe has encountered a problem and needs to close..."

  20. TeeCee Gold badge

    Re: GPS?

    Actually it would probably have come home on its own if they'd waited, they do that you know.

    I recall seeing once that a Predator drone went missing (Iraq in GW2 I think) and was presumed lost. To the surprise of all concerned, it turned up back at its base and made a perfect landing some considerable time later when it realised it wasn't going to get any further instructions from "home". Presumably this was accompanied by cries of "where the f*** have you been?", "dirty stopout" and such.

    Presumably in this case they decided that the risk of some enterprising soul in an adjacent country knocking it down before it got bored and came home itself, getting themselves a load of Hellfire and Reaper tech to analyse, was too high.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Poor thing

    "whether it had sickened of reaping hapless fleshies like corn and was hoping merely to escape"

    Brings a tear to the eye.

  22. MinionZero
    Terminator

    Killer robots

    I wonder how long before they send one killer robot to kill another killer robot? ... Sounds like an idea for a film ;)

  23. Dave 142

    5?

    was it the fifth unit of it's group perhaps?

  24. Steen Hive
    FAIL

    Truth by omission.

    Which border, which country? Looking for Iranian airliners, was it?

  25. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Terminator

    I'm sure the flyboy...

    ...will now be named "Husker". That's gotta hurt.

  26. mafro
    Coffee/keyboard

    Re: Clippy?

    Keyboard: coffee. Bravo Bilgepipe, bravo.

  27. Stevie

    Er...

    It wasn't running FreeBSD 6.summat was it?

  28. Rob
    Terminator

    Spooky

    I was watching T4 lastnight (and no I don't mean the teen-angst full of shite TV channel).

  29. Andus McCoatover

    Shot while trying to escape.

    No doubt, the USAF will hold an immediate enquiry as to how they can exonerate anyone from blame.

    Also, how was this "proactive action"?. Surely it was retroactive action. The former would've surely shot the fuc*ker before it left the ground.

    In the latter case, a cry of "OH SHIIIIT!!!" would probably be required first to have set the wheels (and turbines) of the fighter in motion.

  30. Jerome 0
    Coat

    Pointless really

    Hardly seems worth the bother of shooting it down, everyone knows you shouldn't fear the Reaper.

  31. Stef 4
    Coat

    Casulaties

    ---There "were no reports of civilian injuries".---

    Is that their way of saying they killed 50 British troops?

    Mine's the flak-jacket.

  32. HFoster
    WTF?

    Husker?

    Does the flyboy in question hear "nothing but the rain"?

  33. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Joke

    But the real question is..

    Will they dock the pilot's pay for this?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is why

    This is why I always close the fridge door gently and always say thankyou to a vending machine.

    Plus - Why use the names Hellfire and Reaper? Surely when we're battling these machines and Skynet it would give us more confidence if they were called Puppy Dog and Pussy Cat.

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Plausible Deniability....

    Maybe this whole story is a clever CIA plant designed to excuse the next UAV encroachment on neighboring countries.

    "Dear Vladamir:

    We're awfully sorry about the Kremlin, but its not our fault! Our missle-armed unmanned aerial vehicle lost positive control and conducted an unauthorized cross-border excursion into Russian airspace. There, once confronted by your air defences the UAV's "General Ripper" protocol was unintentionally tripped and the machine carried out its ultimate order to "preserve our precious (fleshy overlord) bodily fluids".

    Enclosed is a $800 check for violation of our component-level logic processor SLA to foreign countries that ensures stiff penalties to the U.S. government and our UAV contractors should a logic flaw result in the destruction of a major foreign landmark and the occupants therein. Once again, you have our apologies. We trust that this event will not affect our ongoing relationship and that you will continue to choose the United States of America as your ally in all future wars against Nazi invaders.

    Sincerely,

    Uncle Sam

  36. Snarkle

    Famous last words....

    Did the Reaper happen to transmit the message...

    "Life, Don't talk to me about life" just as it went AWOL

    Apologies to Douglas Adams, I doubt the USAF would see the humour in it anyway....

  37. Charles Osborne

    It was time to wipedown the screen anyway

    ...sickened of reaping hapless fleshies like corn....

    Well wordsmithed. Thank you.

  38. Nexox Enigma

    Hmm

    They might have shot it down just because it's generally not a nice thing to fly a weapon into someone else's airspace without at least asking first.

  39. Steve Taylor 3
    Unhappy

    Speak and Spell terminator

    Minion Zero writes:

    > Even if they loose comms with it

    'Lose', dammit - 'Lose'. If you're going to infiltrate properly, you'll have to learn to spel gud so you can pass for human.

  40. henchan
    Headmaster

    not positive

    @Rod MacLean

    I did not read "positive" control to be superfluous, redundant wordage. It is reasonable to suppose that a control loop should be in operation. The positive channel is presumably input from human operators. Unspecified channels might be autonomous control and feedback to the human operator.

  41. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge
    Grenade

    Re Passive resistance

    "What would have been the scenario had this piece of hardware been programmed to defend itself and to independently attack any source of threat?

    Remote control murder machines, computer games with the real deaths of combatants and civilians alike.

    "We hit the target without a care from almost 3000 miles away, 3000 miles away, we play the game with the bravery of being out of range".

    Roger Waters"

    The first question is probably best answered with another Pentagon missile attack for Shock and Awe is Anathema to Hearts and Minds and an Infernal Internal Conflict.

    And the last statement is a Cowards' Chant Rant or CounterRevolutionary Rant Chant?

    And as for the filling in the middle .."Remote control murder machines, computer games with the real deaths of combatants and civilians alike." .... well that would be a Live Target for Target Acquisition Controllers?

    The Real Beauty of Remotely Controlled Drones is that Irregular and Unconventional SMARTer Covert Team Play is so easily defaulted and attributed to Computer Systems Code Error/Communications Glitch/Gremlins in the Program. Ca Ira.

    [Sid]

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Congratulations to all those.......

    Suggesting that "sureley" these things are controlled over a secure communications means and that tehy could be programmed with fail safe coordinates and all the other, useful, sensible suggestions.

    You have clearly never been involved with either military procurement or design work!

  43. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge
    Pirate

    Maybe the taliban have an X-Box

    If the Taliban have stuck a WiFi antenna on their hacked X-Box they could have achived positive control of the drone.

  44. MinionZero
    Terminator

    @Steve Taylor 3

    Terminators don't need to spell, they just need to speak with an austrian accent.

    Hasta la vista, Gramar Nazi ;)

    ... (p.s. here's the teeth gnashingly spare 'm' ;)

  45. Nigel 11

    The harrier that tried to defect

    By no means the first case.

    At the height of the cold war, a Harrier jet stationed in West Germany ingested a bird, and after failing to regain control, its pilot ejected. The unmanned jet then recovered the use of its engine, and flew off towards the East German border. As I recall, just about every NATO fighter in the area was scrambled in what would have been a vain attempt to stop it defecting to the East, but the robo-traitor ran out of fuel and crashed about eight miles short of the border with the DDR.

    Any earlier prior art for runaway aircraft? I'd love to hear about a buzz-bomb that turned on its Nazi overlords!

  46. Sam Liddicott
    Black Helicopters

    it could have hit...

    It could have hit a descendant of arch-duke Ferdinand.

  47. Adam Foxton
    Boffin

    @Rod MacLean

    Positive Control means that you're positive you're in control, i.e. a whole control loop is complete and functioning (you move the controls, the rudder moves, the rudder is reported to have moved).

    Losing positive control means that you can't see that your commands are being carried out. This could just mean that the video link died, or some aspect of the control system died (i.e. primary directional controls are dead, but the headlights are still controllable).

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Prior art

    I recently found a piece of a documentary showing V2-launches from Peenemünde. According to the speaker, the Luftwaffe installation next door was not too happy with these thingies as quite a lot of the test launches ended up on their lawn, making great big holes in everything and generally being a lot of bother. I don't know if this is prior art - being uncontrollable and blowing up in unintended places is par for the course for rockets.

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