rusq: Vol. 53 Issue 1: p. 88
Sources: Military Robots and Drones: A Reference Handbook
Anita J. Slack

Information Services Librarian, Vincennes University, Vincennes, Indiana

Military Robots and Drones: A Reference Handbook proves a versatile and balanced resource. While Vincennes University’s collection houses very few materials specifically focused on military robotics, we do own many general robotics-based resources as a result of our robust advanced manufacturing programs. However, a review of available materials via outlets such as YBP GOBI3 and demonstrates the unique nature of this resource. Most published materials in this area demonstrate a somewhat narrow focus. Ethics or specific technical information often encompasses the focus of most resources on military robotics. This book goes well beyond by offering history, ethics, technological developments, a detailed chronology, and worldwide perspectives on the use of robotics in the military.

The historical perspective and chronology included in this book are remarkable, and Springer’s background as a military historian certainly contributed to this. Springer goes well beyond the advent of military usages of robotics and into the origins of the concept of robots themselves—beginning with Homer. He also traces the evolution of ethics-based thinking in connection with robots. In this way, Military Robots and Drones will prove useful for research on the historical and ethical aspects of robotics technology in the past, present, and future. The chronology also includes information about how the field of robotics has evolved in areas outside of the military from the first mathematical computational machines to robots employed in the automotive manufacturing field. This broad treatment of the evolution of robotics will prove useful for a variety of fields of study.

Springer also employs a sense of balance in the treatment of this topic. While Springer fully discusses the advantages of employing robots and drones in military endeavors, he never loses sight of the ethical issues connected with the possibility of robots employing deadly force. His treatment of the topic is fair and takes many possibilities into consideration. Springer acknowledges that the United States has been at the forefront of military robotics, but avoids a myopic focus by including detailed information about the use of military robotics worldwide.

On the whole, Military Robots and Drones: A Reference Handbook will prove useful for academic libraries—particularly those with programs focused on general robotics, homeland security, law enforcement, and manufacturing, but will also prove useful for those with coursework in computer science, ethics and artificial intelligence. This reasonably priced volume would be a useful addition to most academic collections. Also, with the recent public interest in drone technology, this would also be a welcome addition to many public library collections.

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