So in the future, we have robotic (humanoid) soldiers that do the fighting regular human infantry used to do. Now, the backblast of a rocket launcher in real life can definitely kill someone. If there are a lot of people fighting in a tight area and someone isnt paying attention when good ol private pulls out that rpg, someone is probably gonna die. But we humans have squishy bits, we arent made of metal. From what i understand from backblast, the reason its lethal is because of the huge pressure coming out of the back of it.

But robots would be much less vulnerable to the huge jump in pressure, they arent quite as squishy as us. So would they still be at risk of damage or death from backblast? If they stuck their robot faces right at the end of the tube im sure something would break but being a few feet behind it, could they be fine?

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    $\begingroup$ There's a fair amount of opinion involved here, and it will depend greatly on how tough your robots are. If they are cheap, mostly plastic, unarmored units that approximate humans but aren't human, they would take a lot of damage. If they are T100 terminators, not so much. But the force could throw them around and damage fine parts like optics or antennas. Kind of up to you. $\endgroup$
    – DWKraus
    Jun 28, 2022 at 0:04
  • $\begingroup$ Unanswerable without knowing the characteristics of the rocket and the characteristics of the robot. Is this definitely the right question? Are you wanting to write a story where a robot is in the BBDA and is destroyed? Or damaged? Or knocked over but unharmed? At what distance? Or are you wanting a rocket launcher that the other robots can "safely" move behind? (If the last, there are cold-launch systems where the rocket launches at low power then burns hard at a safe distance.) $\endgroup$ Jun 28, 2022 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ Only witnessed RPG-7 backblast in person. WHile its dangerous to a human, any robot with a constitution close to your average washing machine will be fine. If it had cheap plastic optics, exposed highly flammable parts. or prone to sand or debris in its articulating parts there could be some inconvenient damage. $\endgroup$
    – Gillgamesh
    Jun 28, 2022 at 15:18

3 Answers 3


It depends of the durability of the robot. Since we are assuming that these robots are replacing human soldiers, we could presume they have some protection against overpressure effects due to explosives or other weaponry, but this protection could vary between different models depending on specialization. I would think a rear-line artillery loader probably has been designed with less protection than the bomb squad. So I would say yes and no, it depends on the make and model of the robot. It is up to you to decide what is the average protection level of the robots standing behind the rocket.


I just upvoted the answer by PeriodicParticle. But let me add another wrinkle:

Adding soft launch technology to your weapon would usually have a penalty in effect-per-kilo or cost-per-kilo. One more design criterion brings expensive compromises. So the robot army will strike a different balance than a human one. More bang for the buck, less coddling of squishy operators.

  • $\begingroup$ This looks much more like a comment on PeriodicParticle's post than a stand alone answer. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jun 28, 2022 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings, I think my second paragraph stands for itself. Backblast would be damaging in some conditions because making it harmless in all conditions takes too much effort. That leads to a sort of arms race with tougher robots on the front (as per PeriodParticle's answer) and more energetic weapons. $\endgroup$
    – o.m.
    Jun 28, 2022 at 17:04

Why would we build (most) robot soldiers to higher standards than humans?

One of the big benefits of building robot soldiers is that no one, really, gets mad when they die. There's no grieving families, no coffins, and no expensive logistics to recover wounded.

Of course, there's scope for a robot tank, and there's no reason that shouldn't be highly robust. But for your average grunt, we'd be going cheap and disposable. The costs of actually armoring something to a level that, say, protects from small arms fire, is expensive, both in money and flexibility (your robot will be bulky and heavy)

I'd argue that most robot soldiers might look more like a quadcopter with a gun - something cheap, flexible, minimal parts, and swarms in the thousands. This kind of robot would be pretty vulnerable to a rocket launcher blast. But it's fine. There's another 50 where that one came from. They might even have sacrificial drones, that end up wrecked after one shot from the rocket launchers they carry - again, not an issue, there's always a replacement.


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