U.S. authorities are looking into the possibility that China hacked into a defense contractor for the Pentagon in order to steal secret robot plans. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission has already launched an investigation into the incident, ordering security analysts to produce an unclassified report detailing China's current android arsenal and where these technologies came from.

The data breach involves a military gadgets manufacturer called QinetiQ. Its parent firm is the storied company that inspired Q's lab in the James Bond thrillers. The attacks transpired between 2007 and 2009, and initial investigations reveal that the hackers, who constitute the so-called Comment Crew team, have ties to the People's Liberation Army. The attack, which rendered most of the company's research compromised, was perpetrated by exploiting a security flaw at Qinetiq's network, according to Bloomberg. Part of the stolen data involves software systems that are used to control a fleet of military robots. 

U.S. authorities now want to know the current trends and industrial adoption of China's robots. There is also a request to determine whether Chinese robotics is outpacing those of the U.S. and, if so, which of those advances are based on technologies taken through "cyber penetration." A detailed requirement is listed at the Federal Business Opportunities  page. The goal is to address the potential emergence of China's competitive advantage in the robotic race gained from unfair methods.

"I will make a hypothesis: that authoritarian regimes who believe people are weaknesses ... that they can not be trusted, they will naturally gravitate toward totally automated solutions," Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said in a Defense One report