Can open fire without operator intervention: the United States armed robotic dogs with machine guns
Dog robots are one of the most exciting advances in robotics in recent years. They are small, manoeuvrable, and able to overcome obstacles that obstruct wheeled vehicles. So, of course, it was only a matter of time before someone would attach a weapon to it. The publication told about this in more detail. The Verge.
The Vision 60 four-legged robot, built by the American firm Ghost Robotics, is equipped with custom weapons made by small arms specialists Sword International. The weapon itself (dubbed SPUR, or "Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle") is designed to be mounted on a variety of robotic platforms. It has a 30x optical zoom, a thermal imaging camera for targeting in the dark, and an effective range of 1200 meters.
The vehicle was first shown at the 2021 US Army Association annual conference. The conference positions itself as a “resource exhibition and professional development forum”. It took place in Washington DC, October 11-13.
Latest lethality 6.5 #creedmoor sniper payload from @SWORDINT... Check out the latest partner payloads @AUSAorg Wash DC. Keeping US and allied #sof #warfighter equipped with the latest innovations. @USSOCOM #defense #defense #NationalSecurity #drone #robotics pic.twitter.com/Dvk6OvL3Bu
- Ghost Robotics (@Ghost_Robotics) October 11, 2021
Details of the partnership between Ghost and Sword are unclear, but Ghost's four-legged robots are already being tested by the US Army. Last year, 325th Security Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida became the first Department of Defense unit to use four-legged robots in regular operations. He, according to an interview with Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh, will use them to patrol the base perimeter, navigate swampy areas that are "impassable for people and vehicles."
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While intelligence is one of the more obvious use cases for robots, manufacturers are gradually experimenting with other useful features. In addition to 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 substances.
And, of course, they themselves can become weapons.
Boston Dynamics, the best-known four-legged robot maker and Spot manufacturer, has a strict policy on the use of its vehicles as weapons. Other manufacturers don't seem to be so picky. After all, many companies already sell weapon platforms that use tank tracks or wheels, so adding the same basic kit to machines with legs won't be too difficult.
The more important question is how these robots will be deployed in the future and what level of oversight will be required when they start firing deadly projectiles at humans.
Experts have warned some time ago about the use of "killer robots" (known as lethal autonomous weapons systems, or LAWS), and it is not official US policy to prohibit their development or deployment. Many groups advocate a proactive ban on such systems, but in the meantime, companies will continue to build.
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