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01.07.2014
How to: 

Survive a robot attack

How to survive a robot attack

Disclaimer: this robot may not exist in real-life

In fiction, at least, robots are a bad choice of enemy. They tend to come clumping along in large armies, or be equipped with nuclear weapons – but battling against their real-life counterparts needn’t be so difficult.

Sure, Google owns a bipedal robot which can looks like the Terminator, and can run up stairs, as well as another one which can drive cars, but normal humans needn’t worry about those. The main people who need to worry are Google delivery staff, who the company’s top brass have said will be replaced by robots in the not-too-distant future.

Google’s robots, which scamper about in a converted NASA hangar in America, include Schaft, a robot immune from being jostled – one of the key (fictional) ways to stop an oncoming killer robot. Sadly, not only can Google’s ATLAS robot climb stairs (at speed), iSchatt shows a Weeble-like refusal to be knocked over. So if you rely on fiction to provide your robot-fighting manoeuvres, you may well be toast.

Daniel Wilson, author of the book How to Survive a Robot Uprising, says that the key is not to try to win, but rather to disable your robot foe and escape, saying, “Every second you spend within arm’s reach of a robot can take years off your life.” Instead, Wilson advises, focus on disabling your robot foe; “Sensors are by far the most vulnerable, exposed parts of any robot. Destroy or disable outward-facing sensors such as cameras. A handful of dirt, mud, or water will suffice. It is hard for a robot to wipe mud from its eyes when it has whirring buzz saws for hands.”

Wilson advises that in the event of a total robotic takeover of our planet, the only hope to survive in the long-term may be to disguise oneself as a humanoid robot. Robots might be unfeasibly strong, be able to run as fast as Usain Bolt and be able to drive cars, but they’re no use at recognising people. For tips on blending in with out new cyborg overlords, look no further than the world’s first cyborg, Kevin Warwick. Thankfully, Warwick’s ‘enhancement’ largely enabled him to turn lights on and off by snapping his fingers, so it’s not like you’ll be giddy with your new powers or anything…

Wannabe robot-fighters should be aware of course, that the first threat may come from the skies – with even innocuous filming drones (now omnipresent at sports events) capable of turning into lethal weapons. This was witnessed earlier this year when one drone which was reportedly taken over by hackers plunged from the skies and crashed into the head of a competitor at an Australian triathlon.

Thankfuly, when it comes to drones, the internet’s tinfoil hat brigade have us covered – with not one but several projects designed specifically to detect and fend off drones. Droneshield is an Indiegogo project which “detects drones” using sound waves – although if you read the small print, you find that it also detects remote control helicopters, so be careful before you go swiping your child’s Christmas president out of the skies.

Much more serious are Domestic Drone Countermeasures – also seeking funding via Kickstarter – who issued the following warning: “On May 8, 2014 a drone shooting high definition video crashed into a high rise building in downtown St. Louis. Who was flying it and why they were shooting video so close to the building is still unknown. Could this drone be flying around your building and invading your privacy in the near future?”

Why did they issue this warning? Naturally, because they sell the solution – a radio grid which allows people to detect incoming drones via distortions in the grid. Yahoo news describe it as “credible” which is about the faintest praise imaginable, but it might at least offer a few minutes’ warning before your inevitable demise…

Photo: Warner Bros / Everett / rexfeatures.com

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