November 23, 2021

The Turtle and the Scare


The Turtle and the Scare
Turtle Bot wants to scare you | Wikimedia Commons

On November 19, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported that the Kabardino-Balkarian Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences has developed a “turtle” to disperse crowds at street riots.

The tiny bots, slated to stand around waist-height on adults and run at speeds up to 60 kilometers per hour, come equipped with several capabilities to gradually discourage gatherings. First, the robots will project messages of illegal behavior via speakerphone in case milling individuals are not aware that what they are doing is wrong. If this tactic fails, the robot might pull a Spiderman and launch a net to trap a “fugitive,” and then spray the individual in quick-hardening foam to prevent escape.

It is not clear whether scientists at the Kabardino-Balkarian Scientific Center developed the technology independently, but the Rosgvardia (Federal Service of the Troops of the National Guard of the Russian Federation), an internal military force, has stated that they did not order the turtles.

While in recent years there has been discussion of including new technology in the Rosgvardia’s repertoire of means to combat protests, such as “Punisher” armored cars and “Wall” complexes that would protect the solders from angry mobs, these techniques have seen practically no use. The Russian National Guard and mass police tend to disperse crowds with the use of batons and physical force.

Nets, foam, and a big mouth? The turtle could not be that bad, surely – not fearsome like an all-knowing robotic teacher, anyhow.

 

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