A quadrupedal robot showcased during the Association of United States Army’s 2021 annual conference earlier this week came fitted with a gun.
The Sword Defence Systems’ Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR) is designed to be compatible with various robotic platforms.
In this instance, it was mounted on one of Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 units, a quadrupedal unmanned vehicle that resembles a dog.
Sword says the gun can precision fire up to 1,200m using a 6.5mm Creedmoor cartridge, and can also take the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge, with a magazine offering capacity for 10 rounds.
It boasts a 30x optical zoom thermal camera for targeting capabilities in the dark.
The gun’s operator can load and safe it from a distance, clear malfunctions, and unload the platform before recovery.
While it’s unclear if there are any plans to use this combination in the field, Ghost’s quadrupedal robots are already being tested by the US military.
The Vision 60 can carry out tasks such as remote inspection, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, mapping, distributed communications, and persistent security.
The Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida uses Ghost’s semi-autonomous quadrupedal robots in regular operations, including patrolling the base’s perimeter and navigating areas that “aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles”.
The gradual development of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) like Ghost has showcased has sparked fears over a rise in “killer robots“.
One of the world’s most well-known manufacturers of quadrupedal robots, Boston Dynamics, has a strict policy against weaponising its machines, including the popular Spot robot.