Robot Dogs Now Fielding Robot Guns

Robot Dogs Now Fielding Robot Guns

Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 is considered a Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicle, or Q-UGV. At about knee-height, it moves at 5.24 feet per second and can carry payloads of up to 30 pounds. It’s also resilient to the point of being nightmare-worthy: the Vision 60 is capable of being submerged 1.5 meters underwater, wading through swamps, and crossing snow and ice. If the robot falls, it gets right back up and continues on its creepy little journey.

Though the Vision 60 isn’t new, its weaponry certainly is. The commercial and military robotics company partnered with Sword International, a small arms developer, to equip the Vision 60 with a unique sniper rifle called a SPUR, or Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle. The gun, which operates as a short-stroke piston, boasts a 1,200 meter range and 10-round magazine. Its less-terrifying features include a thermal camera, 30x optical zoom, and anti-3rd Generation Night Vision coating for improved camouflage.

Following the deadly combo’s initial display, Ghost Robotics assured NewScientist that the robot dog-slash-sniper rifle is not an autonomous weapon system. “It is fully controlled by a remote operator,” CEO Jiren Parikh said. “There is a human controlling the weapon, there is no autonomy or AI.” Right now it’s unclear whether Ghost Robotics and Sword International plan on attempting to sell the modified robot dog to the government, or what purpose they are intending to serve—but the possibilities aren’t exactly pleasant.

Robot dogs are ideal for traversing terrain and conflict zones considered too dangerous for humans. But much like the furry friends they resemble, the quadrupeds also make great companions, as they’re capable of picking up (and computing) large amounts of data that humans can’t. Though the Department of Defense has been testing robot dogs for the last couple of years, it only began introducing them to real-life Air Force operations in December of 2020. Of course, at that point it became inevitable that someone would eventually weaponize them—something The Verge points out is not prohibited by official US policy.

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