U.S. military embraces robots with greater autonomy PENN HILLS, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The unattended steering wheel on the 15-ton military truck jerked sharply back and forth as the vehicle's huge tires bounced down a rain-scarred ravine through mounds of mine rubble on a rugged hillside near Pittsburgh. Of more than 6,000 robots deployed, about 750 have been destroyed in action, saving at least that many human lives, the Pentagon 's Robotics Systems Joint Program Office estimates. "The ground domain is much, much tougher than the air domain because it's so dynamic," said Myron Mills, who has worked on both aerial and ground robotic systems and now manages an autonomous vehicle program for Maryland-headquartered Lockheed Martin Corp. Enough progress has been made that Lockheed's Squad Mission Support System, a 5,000-pound (2,268 kg) vehicle designed to carry backpacks and other gear for overloaded foot soldiers, is now being tested in Afghanistan.
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