18 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics
direct military applications of robots, much of the interest on the part of the defense community in robotics is focused on manu- facturing. Improved productivity in the manufacture of weapons and associated mili- tary hardware could offer significant savings to the defense budget. Flexible, automated factories, even those not normally involved in military production, could be more easily and quickly mobilized in times of national crisis.
The National Aeronautics and Space Ad- ministration is exploring the expanded use
of robots for such tasks as planetary explora- tion, repairing satellites in space, and aiding mining expeditions. Some researchers are in- terested in the use of robots for ocean ex- ploration and seabed mining.
These examples suggest that, depending on the capabilities of robots in the next decade, there may be important applications that are not now imagined. The nature of these new capabilities, and hence of the ap- plications, will depend in part on Federal policies in such broad areas as R&D, techni- cal education, and reindustrialization.