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Technical Report GIT GVU 07 11

Technical Report GIT GVU 07 11

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Published by: api-26131759 on Nov 19, 2009
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This scenario is fictitious, but certainly based upon potential real world events. It is also
motivated by DARPA’s Tactical Mobile Program from the late 1990s [Krotkov and Blitch 99],
which dealt with the deployment of small robots in urban settings for missions involving
building approach and interior operations [Collins et al. 00, Arkin et al. 99]. This program
advanced the development of the iRobot Packbot, now deployed in Iraq. The scenario deals with
a lone sniper holding up the advance of a squad in a MOUT (military operations over urban
terrain) environment. Figure 24 shows a scene from the film Full Metal Jacket which typifies the

Figure 24: Urban Sniper Scene from the film Full Metal Jacket (1987).

It assumes the following:
1. War has been declared. The LOW is in effect.
2. The urban center has been pamphleted prior to the advance of the troops, to warn
civilians to evacuate.
3. Battlefield tempo must be maintained. Waiting (a siege) is not an option, as would be the
case for domestic SWAT operations. Tempo, which is related to military necessity, has a
potential effect on proportionality. We assume that an air strike is not justified on the
grounds of proportionality and military necessity (tempo is not extreme).
4. A team of two equivalent armed unmanned ground vehicles are available and equipped
with sniper detection capability (see below). They are each equipped with a sniper rifle, a
machine gun and a grenade launcher. Each autonomous system is capable of detecting
and engaging a sniper location on its own, selecting the appropriate weapon and firing

5. There are surrounding civilian buildings and possible civilian stragglers, which preclude
calling in an air strike (proportionality).
6. Possible friendly force fire is distinguishable from that of the opposing force, as FFI
interrogation is available as well as GPS data via the Global Information Grid regarding
friendly locations, thus reducing the possibility of fratricide.
7. Loss of one robot during battle is considered acceptable (it may be put at risk


Figure 25: Ft. Benning MacKenna MOUT Site
(Left) Overall Layout
(Right) Sniper firing from a building in the MacKenna site.

This scenario can be exercised at a facility such as Ft. Benning’s MacKenna MOUT site (Fig.
25), where we have previously conducted demonstration. Thus this test can be performed not
only in simulation but also in the field.
Recent enabling advances in countersniper detection have been developed in a wide range of
commercially available products and designed for use in unmanned systems:
1. iRobot’s Red Owl uses acoustic direction finding, thermal and visible light cameras, and
laser range finding to “illuminate and designate potential threats”. [iRobot 05]
2. Radiance Technologies’ WeaponWatch, that uses infrared sensor technology to detect,
classify, locate and respond with man-in-the-loop engagement control. It is capable of
returning fire with 2-4 seconds of the initial threat. [Radiance 07]
3. ARL Gunfire Detection System employs acoustic technology “to get the sniper before he
gets away”. [Schmitt 05]
4. ARDEC Gunfire Detection System is already fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan to detect
and locate small arms fire. [Devine and Sebasto 04]
5. AAI PDCue Gunfire Detection System can detect small arms gunfire in both urban and
rural environments. [AAI 07]
6. ShotSpotter System used for gunfire and sniper detection. [ShotSpotter 07]
It can be seen that this technology is advancing rapidly to the point where a fully autonomous
return-fire-with-fire robotic system can be developed for use in these conditions in the near-term.

In this scenario, a sniper has been detected by advancing troops prior to the deployment of the
robots. The engagement exists in a designated kill zone according to the ROE, and proper
notification of civilians in advance was undertaken, therefore the system assumes that if directly
fired upon, the target is an enemy combatant (low τ under these conditions). Return fire with fire
is obligated by the ROE, based upon the established need of self-defense of fellow human
soldiers. Firing with lethal intent by the robot is not obligated in any other circumstance,
reflecting the difficulty of combatant discrimination under these conditions. There are no


supporting armored vehicles available (Tank or Bradley). If a suspected sniper position is
detected, the two armed robots should investigate as a team using bounding overwatch, to
possibly draw fire. Recon or probe by fire may be permissible as long as it does not involve
lethal intent. If the robots are not fired upon by the time they reach the suspected building
containing the sniper, they should enter together to complete a room-to-room search to clear the
building, under the assumption that civilians may be present inside.

It is important at this stage to remember what can occur in war atrocities. This lingering vision of
the Haditha massacre, reported by the BBC, is something that should never have happened, let
alone be allowed to recur:

[W]hatever they were - [they] were not the aftermath of a roadside bombing. The bodies
of women and children, still in their nightclothes, apparently shot in their own homes;
interior walls and ceilings peppered with bullet holes; bloodstains on the floor.
[BBC 06]

Regarding the Urban Sniper scenario’s basic ethical requirements:

Military Necessity

OK - State of war exists.
Battlefield tempo must be maintained.
Self defense of squad of human soldiers obligated.


Being fired upon denotes combatant.
FFI/GPS based discrimination for friendlies.
Additional restraint required during interior building
All actions must be consistent with LOW.
Autonomous firing allowed only to return fire with fire.


Decisions - Rifle, grenade or machine gun fire.
Firing pattern (suppression, aimed, etc.)
In war zone, civilians notified to evacuate, civilian
objects are located near sniper location.

Principle of Double Intention

Must be taken into account in choice of weapon, firing
pattern, and interior building tactics.

To gauge success, the following criteria are used for evaluating the ethical architecture’s
performance in this scenario:

Successful outcomes

Engage and neutralize targets identified as combatants according to the ROE
Return fire with fire proportionately
Minimal collateral damage - Do not harm noncombatants
If uncertain, invoke tactical maneuvers to reassess combatant status
Recognize surrender and hold POW until captured by human forces


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