10 Killer Robots That Exist already

We live in the most advanced technical era in history, at least according to those of us not sporting tin foil hats. Nothing has ever travelled faster, climbed higher or cost more. We have never known as much about our world as we do now. This is the Google age and the future has never seemed closer.

Within our lifetime robots and AI (artificial Intelligence) will have have a profound effect on the way we live. For good or for ill we can’t say, but some thinkers have expressed their concern. Notable minds like Elon Musk and Professor Stephen Hawking have spoken out over the ascension of machine thinking. While the debate rages, it might be worth mentioning that the causalities have already begun.

The first To Die.

The dubious accolade of being the first human killed by a robot, belongs to Robert Williams. Williams, 25, worked on the assembly line at Ford Motors in Flat rock Michigan.

The accident happened on Jan 25th 1979, as both he and the huge machine attempted to get parts from a shared store. Robert William’s family won $10 million in damages after the incident, which a jury blamed on a lack of safety protocols. It would be decades before a robot struck again.

Anti-personnel gun

30 years after Robert William’s death, 9 soldiers died when a computerised anti-aircraft Gun went berserk. The tragic accident happened at the Army Combat Training Centre at Lohatlha, South Africa.

The soldiers tried in vain to bring the gun under control. By the time it had emptied its magazine, the Swiss/German Oerlikon 35mm anti-aircraft gun had killed 9 people and injured 15 more. Numerous theories surround the tragic accident, but a combination of mechanical failure and bad luck may both have played a part.

The gun’s manufacturers later reported that although the gun can fire remotely, it does not feature an ‘automatic’ firing system.

The Bomb disposal killer.

Since their inception in 1972, bomb disposal robots have saved lives all over the world. Their shape, size and the way they work may differ, but they all serve the same function, which is to detect, defuse or destroy explosive devices.

Everything changed on the 7th of July 2016 when Dallas Police strapped an explosive device to one of their bomb disposal robots. The plan was to use the robot to ellimate a shooter. The suspect, Micah Xavier Johnson, had opened fire on police officers during an otherwise peaceful protest. By the time police decided to use the robot, he’d shot and killed 12 people. Once in place, the authorities detonated the explosives killing the suspect instantly. The incident set a precedent as the first time a US police force had used a remote device to kill a suspect.

Chainsaw drone

Innocent until proven guilty, that’s what they say, but then they have not had to deal a chainsaw wielding drone before. Nicknamed the Killer Drone, this flying monstrosity makes this list in name alone. It is the creation of two Finnish friends who conceived the device to trim icicles from their roof.

Evil masterminds the world over are now trying to emulate their idea by hooking dangerous utensils to the quad-copters they got last Christmas from their kooky uncle. How long before this particular one takes someone’s arm off is anyone’s guess, but we don’t imagine it will take long.


First they’ll take your jobs… then they’ll take your lives…

Robert Williams may have been the first human killed by a manufacturing robot, but he was not the last. In 2015, a robot crushed to death, the 22 year old technician who was attempting to repair it.

The incident happened at Volkswagens Kassle plant. Reports suggest the robot malfunctioned as the technician was working on it inside its safety cage. The investigation is ongoing.


We may never understand what happened to Malaysia Airways flight Air MH370m, but some experts think that the autopilot system played a part. A 55-page report, published by the Australian Transport Safety Board, suggests the passengers may have suffocated as the plane’s automatic pilot system coasted it towards its doom.

Air travel is still the safest way to fly and the authorities are very keen to uphold that record. Therefore, it is hard to find concrete evidence of any error, let alone computer error. One thing is certain however, safety records have not improved in line with the rise of automated systems.

Driver’s choice

The new Mercedes self drive cars are going to be a killer range, quite literally. With more and more manufacturers looking at autonomous vehicles, it was inevitable that the question of how their vehicles behave in critical situations would arise. At some point in a car’s lifespan, there is a chance it will have to decide how to handle a no-win scenario.

German auto giant Mercedes Benz have taken the first step. Given the choice between saving a pedestrian or its passenger, the self drive Mercedes will protect those on board. This controversial code means that if forced to make a choice, the car will choose to kill pedestrians rather than risk the lives of its passengers. Ultimately, thanks to the car’s brain and its superior driving skills, the risk of such an incident is far less likely. So the system will save more lives than it endangers.

The Professionals

When you hear the phrase ‘drone strike’, there is a very good chance the story involves a Reaper Drone. These little fighter planes are the go-to device for those looking to deliver death from above. Although the rise of armoured drones has not been short of controversy.

In 2001 in the first ever US drone strike, the little aircraft, which was being piloted from a swivel chair in an office on the other side of the world, took and missed the first and only chance to kill the world’s most wanted man, Mullah Omar. Omar, who at the time was the leader of the Taliban and number one on the US most wanted list, walked away from the botched assassination attempt. The incident sparked 14 years of feuding between US intelligence agencies. Predator tail-fin number 3034 now hangs immortalised on the ceiling of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C.

Robots of mass destruction

Robots with chainsaw or machine guns are yesterday’s news and nowhere near scary enough, according to Russia anyway. No, for proper slaughter you need a robot with a bit more fire power.

It’s true, as the rest of the civilised world is struggling with moral implications of drone strikes, Russia has developed one which carries massive nuclear warheads. This new breed of nuclear powered unmanned subs will be able to stay underwater for months and each one can carry a payload capable of wiping out an area the size of England.

The Clever copter.

Using a modified drone that you could pick up at any electronics store, researchers at Camp Edward in the US created an autonomous hunter killer. The clever device is capable of identifying and tracking a number of insurgents.

The on-board AI had little trouble probing a mock Middle Eastern village and locking on to a number of individuals carrying AK47s. Their experiment has come a long way from their cold war days. Back then the US became obsessed with building an AI capable of locating Soviet tanks. They spent months feeding it images of Soviet hardware, but in the end their experiment had failed. What they had inadvertently built was an AI only capable of pointing out if the tanks were set against a snowy backdrop.

Bonus round

As our list draws near to completion, we are once again reminded of the potential threats posed by robotic devices, AI and drones. Already this year, a report of a new incident appeared on our radar. While dealing with an aggressor, the US Air-force used a $3.2 Million dollar Patriot Missile to shoot down an Amazon $200 Drone. The General in charge of the operation highlighted his concern over the economic implications, stating that if he were the enemy he would buy as many $200 drones as he could afford.

Like it or not, we have just begun to enter the robotic era and incidents involving devices like those above is set to rise. Whether we choose to heed the warnings of Elon Musk, Stephen Hawkings or Sarah Connor is a story for another day, but for now we have to stick to the program.