Video of robot dog equipped with (and using) assault rifle sends shivers down spine

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Robot dog videos, especially those with the Spot model designed by Boston Dynamics, are usually pretty funny. But it’s a video of an entirely different kind that has been circulating online for two days: The robot dog doesn’t dance to the beat, nor does it somersault. Topped with an assault rifle, he is filmed firing at targets.

The video in question, posted July 20 on Twitter, quickly went viral. We see a robotic dog similar to those developed by Boston Dynamics shooting at targets in a snowy environment. Note that the accuracy of the shot is not there and the robot also seems to have trouble controlling the recoil of the weapon. However, this video of just over a minute reminds us that these robots, which are mostly designed for assistance or terrain reconnaissance purposes, could also play a more macabre role.

Anyone who a few years ago laughed at ‘concerns’ freaking out over ‘funny dancing robot dogs’ should be forced to watch this video once a day for the rest of the year “Writes Sean Chiplock, who forwarded the video on his Twitter account. Impossible to know if the robot is acting autonomously or if a person located outside the camera remotely activates the shutter. The magazine Deputy however, discovered that the video was likely shot in Russia.

A tech enthusiast’s “toy”

The original video (below) was posted on YouTube in March by a certain Alexander Atamanov. After some research, Deputy found out that Atamov is the founder of the company Hoversurf, which develops hovercrafts. Passionate about technology, he seems to have designed this shooting robot simply to amuse himself and doesn’t seem to be animated by any warrior ambition – although he officially named this dog “Skynet”, as stated on his Facebook account .

Although it looks similar to Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot, this model is completely different — as reporters from Deputy, there are many fakes of this robot on the market. The model seen in this video appears to be a UnitreeYusu product, which can be found on AliExpress for around $3,000. The weapon is most likely a PP-19 Vityaz – a Russian-made submachine gun.

Note that the robot is stamped with distinctive characters on these sides: the Russian flag on one side, a wolf’s head on the other. This wolf head emblem is commonly associated with Russian special operations forces (or Spetsnaz), reports the magazine. But it can be bought in different places, and therefore its presence does not mean that the special forces have equipped themselves with killer dog robots… The armored vehicle that we see in the video also confirms the Russian origin of the video: it is t. is a BDRM-2, a Russian vehicle recognizable by its triangular door, which was notably seen recently in Ukraine.

A technology that is difficult to regulate

Boston Dynamics’ robot dogs are officially not intended for use in armed conflict. They are generally given more “respectable” functions, such as performing agricultural tasks (guarding, checking yields, etc.) or inspecting places dangerous to humans. American law enforcement agencies use it for surveillance purposes, which is not always welcomed by the population.

However, spot robots have already been used in a military context – for reconnaissance, always – including during military exercises carried out by the French army. According to the magazine The edgeBoston Dynamics vice president of business development Michael Perry said at the time that the robot had been supplied by a European distributor, Shark Robotics, and that the American company had not been informed of this particular use. .

Namely that Boston Dynamics makes it a point of honor that its machines are never armed. The terms and conditions of the robot dog expressly prohibit using it “to injure or intimidate any person or animal, as a weapon or to enable the use of a weapon” or “for any unlawful purpose. or ultra-dangerous”. Spot robots have therefore never been equipped with a weapon (or at least not as far as we know).

That is not the case with the Q-UGV robot, which can be equipped with an automatic sniper rifle developed by Ghost Robotics in collaboration with weapons manufacturer SWORD International. Presented in October 2021 at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army, this “killing machine” can hit its target at a distance of 1200 meters. Opinions are divided on this type of technology. While some see it as a stepping stone to a dark and dangerous world, devoid of morality and ethics, others see little difference between these armed robot dogs and the drones or other autonomous ground weapons already deployed.

It should be noted that to date, the use of lethal autonomous weapons has not been regulated, despite several unsuccessful attempts by the United Nations to ban them. The United States and Russia and other countries developing such weapons strongly oppose any restrictions in this area.

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