New Robotic Sniper “Dog” Unveiled at Military Trade Show

( – As technology becomes more advanced, there are concerns about the well-being of humankind. Robots are one of those issues causing worry. Tech companies are creating more advanced bots all the time and there are some people who think they could eventually threaten the human race.

On the other hand, robots could make it safer for soldiers fighting in wars. That’s what an arms company and robotics company likely considered when they built a recently unveiled robotic dog.

The Robotic Dogs of War

Philadelphia-based Ghost Robotics and arms manufacturer SWORD International out of Nevada introduced a robotic dog at the recent US Army trade show. It was no ordinary robot, though. This one came equipped with a deadly and accurate rifle.

A sniper rifle with a 6.5 mm Creedmoor projectile is mounted on the top of the robotic dog. The modified robot, called the “Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle” (SPUR), can hit targets up to 3,940 feet away. It can also see targets at night and has a 30x zoom feature. The design uses the 6.5 mm Creedmoor cartridges because they can travel further than the 5.56 bullets currently used by the troops on the ground.

Through remote operation, users can direct SPUR to load the first round, fire the weapon, and when finished, clear the chamber to make the weapon safe, according to the designers. The Air Force has expressed interest in operating robotic dogs from central command facilities by using virtual reality headsets. Although, it’s not clear how far away the operator needs to be from the weapon to do so. SWORD International and Ghost Robotics have also not revealed how many rounds the robot can hold, if it can reload, or how much it will cost the military.

There are currently other robotic dogs on the market. US Air Force Security Forces at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida currently use unarmed Ghost Robotics’ quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicles (Q-UGVs). Other military units are testing these dogs, too. However, the armed version hasn’t yet been put to use.

Last year, Air Force Major Jordan Criss indicated these special robots can serve as an “extra set of eyes and ears” while collecting huge amounts of data from strategic locations throughout Tyndall Air Force Base.

Controversial Decision

The decision to add a weapon to a robotics unit is controversial. Boston Dynamics, a Ghost Robotics competitor, also has a robotic dog named “Spot” but that company has pledged to never arm it.

There are concerns that the robotic animal could be hacked or malfunction and turn into a small killing machine if it has a weapon attached to its back. In the age of cyberattacks, it’s easy to see why people might be worried.

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