Dogs have long been a hunting companion for humans, so it makes complete sense that almost as soon as robotic quadrupeds were perfected, we’d be slapping big ol’ guns on ‘em. Boston Dynamics might not want anyone using Spot for evil, but there are plenty of other bot makers happy to make robo-dogs ready for war.
Ghost Robotics’ Vision-60 quadruped moves around on four legs just like Boston Dynamics’ Spot does. Equipped with a host of sensors and cameras, the Vision-60 is agile enough to even stay up on four legs while slipping and sliding around on ice, so if in the back of your head you were planing some Home Alone-esque antics to one day escape a pack of menacing robo-dogs, you better head back to the drawing board.
Besides, the Ghost Robotics Vision-60 may not actually have to be anywhere near you to take you out. S.W.O.R.D. Defense Systems, a very real company and not a parody from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, recently revealed a robo-dog accessory called the Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle—or SPUR, for short—that upgrades the automaton with military capabilities. The SPUR includes a thermal camera with 30x zoom, which means that in the middle of the night a remote operator can still easily spot living, breathing targets. Cool, cool.
The combination of the Vision-60 quadruped and the SPUR is designed to allow soldiers to get into closer range of a target without putting themselves in jeopardy, but the rifle has a range of almost 4,000 feet, so it can hit a target from about three-quarters of a mile away. The SPUR + Vision-60 pairing was revealed at the Association of the United States Army’s annual conference recently held in Washington, DC, but it’s unclear if it has been officially sold to any militaries around the world. The quadruped has been tested by the U.S. and Australian armies, and you can assume possibly other organizations that are less forthcoming about their activities. Remember when we were nervous about robots doing parkour? Gulp.