Robotic War Balls & Tricycle Guns

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Welcome to the Weekly Geek, your weekly note on some of the most exciting, innovative, or just plain weird war technology people are talking about online, seasoned with just a dash of International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

Robotic War Balls

Defense One wins the top spot this week with a very high-tech inner tube. Patrick Tucker’s article on the GuardBot, an amphibious drone that rolls across water or land with more mobility than any other ground robot on the market, is definitely worth a read. Designed for amphibious assault (e.g. storming the beach), the GuardBot will use advanced GIS to autonomously move to a set location and sniff out explosive chemicals prior to the arrival of human forces. In yet another example of video games accurately portraying future war technologies, the GuardBot is a near exact replica of the Robotic Anti-Personnel Sentry from Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Seriously, check this out.


GIF taken from “Marine Corps Base  Quantico” by GuardBot Inc.

Obviously, the vast majority of IHL was written decades before inner tubes went Terminator, but it was designed with the development of new technologies in mind. Article 36 of Additional Protocol I mandates that states carefully consider whether any new weapon or method of warfare violates IHL.  We can only hope that someone on the review board tries this with the GuardBot.


Tricycle Guns

Remember the sophomore at Central Connecticut State University who attached a handgun to a drone? And another Connecticut teen who built a drone flamethrower and used it to roast a turkey (seriously, what’s going on in the Constitution state)? Some of the strangest war tech advances are the result of someone saying, “dude, let’s put


Photo credit to the Forgotten Weapons blog

this thing on that thing!”Behold, the Maxim Dual-Gun Tandem Tricycle.


Ian McCollum at Popular Mechanics brings back the incredible story of “the most awesome pedal-powered vehicle ever built.” The human-powered helicopter team from Atlas might disagree, but I doubt they’d pick a fight with the Maxim Tricycle. Developed by famed gunmaker Hiram Maxim, the 27.5 pound machine gun was chambered in .303 and could send 400 rounds downrange before overheating. This represented a major breakthrough in weapon portability, as the Maxim gun weighed half as much as the other “light” machine gun available at the time, the Colt m1895.

Screen Shot 2016-01-13 at 8.16.24 AM

Photo credit to Popular Mechanics

Despite the Maxim Tricycle’s one-speed mobility and fashionable pink tassels (I assume), it never saw active combat. It may not be an F-35, but it’s certainly a fascinating glimpse into the development of mobile weaponry. Sometimes the geekiest tidbits come from centuries long past. The machine gun (bike-mounted or otherwise) changed the battlefield forever, and inflicted appalling casualties during both World Wars. For more on this history, check out The Gun by C.J. Chivers for a literary journey from flintlock rifles to Kalashnikovs.

That’s all for this week, check back next Wednesday for another Weekly Geek!

Joe Gibson is a Program Officer with the American Red Cross International Humanitarian Law team. Comments and Weekly Geek tips can be sent to



2 responses to “Robotic War Balls & Tricycle Guns

  1. Pingback: Exoskeletons and Ghost Ships | Humanity in War·

  2. Pingback: A New Year, New Tensions, and Old Conflicts | Humanity in War·

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