Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Autonomous Threatening Machine for robbery
  (+2, -6)
(+2, -6)
  [vote for,

Robots are able to operate in environments far too hazardous for humans--often with capabilities far exceeding human abilities. A robbery can be a hazardous environment where abilities to crash through barriers, get hit by bullets, drive at high speed, or even explode without risking one's own skin could be beneficiary.

A robbery machine would need to be mobile enough to enter the bank, jewelry store, or casino being targeted. Fortunately, most such places are wheelchair-accessible, so it could be built on top of a simple wheeled chassis. It would also need to be able to haul enough loot out to make the robbery worthwhile, so having sufficient cargo space and power in a package compact enough to fit through the exit is important. While you could use a large and heavily-armored device to smash through walls making an exit as large as you need it to be, delivering a tank to the scene might alert authorities well before the robbery.

Upon entry, the robot would need to gain some compliance from the employees. Demands could be made via a speaker or a display, or the robot could have instructions simply painted on it. Money could be fed into a high-speed counting instrument built into the robot to verify the authenticity of the notes and ensure a minimum payoff. To keep people in compliance, it could be equipped with a firearm or bomb. Weapons too heavy for a single human being to wield would be useful for keeping law enforcement at a distance.

With enough booty in machine's possession, the operator needs to recover the ill-gotten goods. While the robot could be built on a chassis capable of driving away at high speed, such a robbery is sure to get the attention of law enforcement and it would be extremely difficult to outrun a helicopter or even the police radio. One potential solution would be to emit a smokescreen during the chase and equip the robot with eyes capable of seeing through the screen. The loot could be explosively jettisoned unseen behind the smokescreen towards a safehouse or parked van, and the robot could continue to occupy law enforcement while the operator escapes with the loot unnoticed by the authorities. Odds could be improved if the robots can be used in numbers large enough to overwhelm the police by saturating an area with robberies.

Obviously, the costs of assembling such a robot today would easily exceed value of its potential targets, and the necessary technologies are in their infancy. Autonomous cars can barely handle a quiet drive through town let alone a high-speed chase, but many people are working on delivering these technologies to consumers in the future and perhaps somebody will find a way to exploit them. It might even be possible to steal the some of the necessary components with little risk by infecting autonomous cars with a computer virus. It's also very possible that our currency will be entirely virtual before robotics has matured enough for the autonomous threatening machine for robbery, but there will always be places to rob.

evildork, Jun 25 2008


       Surely, with no person inside the robberbot, law enforcement types can shoot at it with impunity?
lostdog, Jun 25 2008

       Yes, that is why you plate it with 2 inches of steel armor.   


       "Now stand back, I gotta practice my stabbing." -Roberto the criminally insane robot (Futurama)
GutPunchLullabies, Jun 25 2008

       Sounds like overkill. What you need is a tank small enough to fit in the back of a small truck. Drive the tank into the bank, collect the loot, get back in the truck, haul ass. Since trucks are difficult to manoeuvre at high speeds, you might want to escape through a manhole or get away in a conveniently-located car instead.   

       Still, + for the idea, probably wouldn't be difficult to pull off if you could get the parts.
Bukkakinator, Jun 26 2008

       Isn't comic-book cops-and-robbers sci-fi sorta baked, if not actually done to a rather unappetising crisp?
Murdoch, Jun 26 2008

       Not that I've been planning robberies or anything, but as far as I know most bank branches only have a few thousand in cash. So it would take a number of robberies to make your money back on your fancy high tech machine.   

       But guess what? the police get wise to your antics and blow the thing to bits with a rocket propelled grenade.
Bad Jim, Jun 26 2008

       It needs more simplicity. Just fit it to manhole openings. Then when its tiny periscope sees a pedestrian approaching, it rises from the sewer wearing the manhole cover as a hat, and extends a gun and a sack with a dollar sign on it.   

       If you place your wallet in the sack and smile, it tips the manhole cover jauntily and recedes into the sewer to migrate to a new hole.
GutPunchLullabies, Jun 26 2008


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