Remember when Boston Dynamics unveiled their agile and extremely capable autonomous robot dog, and critics complained that it wouldn’t be long before a large gun would be mounted on the back of it, because humans can't have nice things without making them shoot or explode?
Well, it’s happened. And it’s even more scary than we thought.
An unveiling of a robot dog with a large sniper strapped to the back of it has got people feeling uneasy, after the company suggested their latest product is quite the killing machine. As what can only be described as walking dystopian nightmare-fuel, this quadruped dog carries a 6.5 mm Creedmoor sniper, adept at taking out targets from long range, and is capable of operating in both day and night-time operations.
The platform the gun is mounted to is called the Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicle (QUGV) produced by Ghost Robotics, and it's been on sale for some time in various iterations - which appear to be most homeland defense and military operations. According to the Ghost Robotics page, their robots are more durable, faster and more convenient to service than competitors, and are able to be deployed in a wide variety of situations.
It appears the company has partnered with SWORD International, an established firearms manufacturer famous for developing various small arms platforms, such as the MK-18 Lapua. Their latest development, the sniper attached to the dog, is called the Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR). The rifle can be modified to fit different platforms, and they show it off attached to a QUGV in the above photo.
“Due to its highly capable sensors the SPUR can operate in a magnitude of conditions, both day and night. The SWORD Defense Systems SPUR is the future of unmanned weapon systems, and that future is now.” writes the SWORD International release.
The SPUR is covered in a camouflage coating to conceal it from night vision goggles, and has an effective range of 1,200 meters (3937 feet). We currently don’t know how it would be operated, but it certainly poses a worrisome prospect.
Critics have voiced concerns over the weaponization of robot quadrupeds ever since they were thrust into the spotlight with Spot the robot dog. Their ability to scale uneven terrain and move autonomously would make them perfect for carrying supplies, reconnaissance missions, and – unfortunately – remote warfare.
In February, a prominent group attached a paintball gun onto Boston Dynamic’s Spot, sending it on a rampage in the name of ‘art’. Boston Dynamics, who have always resisted the proposition of using their robots for violence, condemned the act and stated this was not the intent behind their products. However, other manufacturers appear to have different opinions.