ABU DHABI // From exploring the ocean’s depths and deep space to supporting emergency personnel in natural disasters, researchers believe robots are the key to solving many of the world’s most difficult challenges.
Unmanned systems have the potential to transform military operations, the way first responders fight fires and how researchers explore the ocean depths, experts have said.
The world will also witness greater human-machine collaboration, artificial intelligence and “cyber-hardening” of weapons and networks against attack.
The UAE has remote-controlled lifeguard buoys to reach swimmers in trouble, and “fire bots” that are sent to look for people stranded in buildings.
These are examples of the human-machine teams that experts said have already been deployed.
“In 2017, we will continue to see a focus on developing technologies that improve the partnership of human-machine teams, specifically designing the right kind of sensors to expand the possibilities,” said Grigorios Koustsogiannis, a business development executive for aerospace and defence company Lockheed Martin’s rotary and mission systems.
In addition to hardware such as drones, defence against cyber threats is the key challenge.
“With new cyber adversaries surfacing every day, the size, scale and variety of systems and platforms that need to be protected grows,” Mr Koustsogiannis said.
The company works with the UAE on a variety of programmes and capabilities, including air and missile defence, systems integration and tactical aircraft.
“We believe that the UAE takes cyber security very seriously,” he said.
“In recent years, we have experienced an increase in both frequency and complexity of attacks. The borders between physical and cyberspace are blending and cyber-attacks now can have direct effect on the cyber domain.”
Experts said the benefits of such robotic systems were aligned with the UAE’s goals for urgent humanitarian relief with the URS Labs robotic vehicles – one of the local finalists of the UAE AI and Robotics Awards for Good.
Mohammad Hasbini, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said the UAE had embraced a modern economy, centred on sustainable growth and innovation.
“Automation and drone systems are poised to enable unprecedented efficiency in the areas of transportation, emergency services, defence, monitoring, social utilities and disaster relief,” he said.
In defence, drones would enable the effective monitoring of roads and borders, as well as suspicious incidents and behaviour.
“Cyber-attacks against drones might enable remote access, damage, disruption or the leakage of crucial data. This has great ramifications, considering that drones will be a part of critical infrastructure, distributed on land, sea and air.”