According to the Baghdad Post, Iraq is preparing a robotic unmanned vehicle equipped with machine guns in its war against ISIS. The vehicle could be used to take back Mosul, an ISIS-occupied town in northern Iraq.
Based on Defense One’s translation, Iraqi security forces have loosely dubbed the robot 'Alrobot' (Arabic for robot). It has an automatic machine gun, four cameras which display the field of view to the operators and a launcher for on-board Russian-made Katyusha rockets.
The Baghdad Post story suggests that Alrobot can be operated by laptop and radio link from up to a kilometre away. Engadget reports that this relatively short distance means its operators will have to remain on the battlefield, but can at least stay hidden and safe whilst the machine carries out its purpose. The robot is approximately the size of a standard car and looks like a tank.
Speaking to Defense One, Elliot Zweig, deputy director the Middle East Media Research Institute, believes that “the armoured robot seems to be part of the Iraqi military arsenal in the offensive to liberate Mosul from ISIS.”
Baghdad Post’s story credits two brothers for the creation of the Alrobot, although their identify remains anonymous. Twitter user @nomorestans spotted the story and said the unmanned robot made its debut at the Defence, Security and Aviation Fair Exhibition in Baghdad earlier this year.
Alrobot is not the first rumoured armed bot to take on ISIS. Back in December, Russian news site Sputnik International reported that the Syrian Arab Army may have deployed Russian combat robots against rebels at the Syriatel Tower in Latakia province. The robots and surveillance drones allegedly aided the Syrian Army in killing 70 rebels with no ally losses.
However, Defense One reports that Aric Toler from Bellingcat said several outlets touting the Russian robot victory in the battle of the Syriatel Tower used imagery from other conflicts (between Saudi Arabia and Yemen), while the photos of the robots were from training exercises. Toler concluded that “Syria almost certainly did not use Russian combat robots in military activity of mid-December in the Latakia Governorate.
“Sputnik simply rephrased and reposted a crude, fake blog entry from a Russian social network.”
There are no concrete plans as to when or where Iraqi forces will actually deploy Alrobot, but it is presumed the government will build more if it proves successful.