Of Course The Robot Dogs Have Guns Now

It looks like we've gone from cute robotic dogs to unmanned mass murderer quite quickly.

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A robot dog with a rifle strapped to its body
The Spur four-legged robot was unveiled at a military convention this week
Photo: Ghost Robotics

We shouldn’t be surprised that most of the latest tech has a military use, but the speed at which cutting-edge creations are being armed to the teeth does seem a little disconcerting. The military’s latest robotic recruit is this quadruped, which has been armed with a rifle on its back.

Remember those cute four-legged robots that could dance, jump and hop? Well now, another company that makes similar-looking robotic beasts has unveiled its vision for the real world uses of these quadrupedal robots.

During the Association of the United States Army’s 2021 annual conference in Washington DC this week, weapons-maker Sword Defense used a Ghost Robotics machine to create a four-legged, remote control assassin.

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Two images of the Sword robot dog with a rifle strapped to its back
Photo: Sword Defense

The robot, which has been called the Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (or Spur), uses a Vision-60 quadruped robot. On its back, Sword Defense has strapped a 6.5mm rifle that caries 10 rounds and is said to be accurate to 1,200 meters — or around 3,900 feet. That all sounds terrifying to me.

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When it was unveiled in 2020, the Vision 60 was said to be designed for surveillance and reconnaissance missions, and it was trialed by the US military for base security. While it shouldn’t be a shock that these four-legged robots have been recruited by the military, it’s the speed at which we’ve gone from “look at the cute dancing robots” to “these machines will massacre your village” that I find alarming.

But a host of everyday objects have their origins in the armed forces. Did you know digital cameras were first used by military satellites to capture pictures of the enemy? Or that even the humble tea bag can trace its origins back to the front line?

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When Ghost Robotics unveiled its quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicle, the Vision-60 was quickly viewed as the militarized cousin of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robotic dog.

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A matter of months later, and the Vision-60 has already been given a gun. That’s less time than it takes some California and New York residents to get a firearm permit.

But I’m definitely not suggesting robot dogs armed with rifles should encourage you to rush out and get one of those.