They’re putting guns on robot dogs now

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It was only a matter of time

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The quadrupedal robot is one of the most interesting developments in robotics in recent years. They are small, agile, and capable of traversing environments that are frustrating to wheeled machines. So, of course, it was only a matter of time until someone put a gun on one.

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The image above shows a quadruped robot – a Vision 60 unit manufactured by US firm Ghost Robotics – that has been equipped with a custom gun by small arms specialist Talwar International. It appears that the gun itself (called the SPUR or “Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle”) has been designed to be fitted on a variety of robotic platforms. It has 30x optical zoom, thermal camera for targeting in the dark, and an effective range of 1,200 meters.

It is unclear whether Sword International or Ghost Robotics are currently selling this combination of gun and robot. But if they’re not, it looks like they soon will be. In form of marketing copy Talwar’s website claims: “SWORD Defense Systems SPUR is the future of unmanned weapon systems, and that future is now.”

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The robot base is built by Ghost Robotics, and houses a specially designed gun manufactured by Sword International.
Image: Talwar International

Earlier this week the machine was shown for the first time at the Association of United States Army’s 2021 annual convention. The conferences introduce themselves as the “Landpower Exposition and Professional Development Forum” held October 11-13 in Washington DC.

Details about the partnership between Ghost and Sword are unclear, but Ghost’s quadruple robots are already being tested by the US military. Last year, the 325th Security Forces Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida became the first unit of the Department of Defense. use quadruple robot in regular operation. It uses them to patrol the perimeter of the base, navigating marshy areas that are “not desirable to humans and vehicles,” according to an interview With Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh.

Although reconnaissance robots are one of the most obvious use cases for dogs, manufacturers are slowly experimenting with other payloads. As well as providing remote video and mapping, the machines can be used as mobile cell towers, to defuse bombs, or to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear matter (otherwise known as CBRNs). can be done for.

And, of course, they can become weapons themselves.

Unlike the better-known Boston Dynamics, Ghost Robotics is eager to find military customers for its quadruple machines.
Image: Ghost Robotics

Boston Dynamics, the best-known maker of quadruped robots and the maker of the Spot, has put in place a strict policy to re-arm its machines. It seems that other manufacturers are not so qualified. After all, a lot of companies already sell unlegged gun platforms that use tank threads or wheels, so adding the same basic kit to legged machines isn’t much of a stretch.

The big question is how these robots will be deployed in the future and what level of monitoring will be required if they start firing deadly rounds at humans.

For some time, experts have been warning about the slow growth in the use of “killer robots” (known in official jargon as the Lethal Autonomous Weapon System, or LAWS), and official US policy does not restrict their development or deployment. campaigning for multiple groups preemptive ban On such systems, but, in the meantime, it looks like companies will continue to build what is possible. And that means putting guns on robot dogs.

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