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Robot Dogs Now Have Sniper Rifles For Heads—And This Certainly Can't End Well

Robot Dogs Now Have Sniper Rifles For Heads—And This Certainly Can't End Well
Ghost Robotics/Twitter

In what looks like a callback to the Black Mirror episode "Metalhead," a robot dog armed with a sniper rifle was unveiled this week in Washington, D.C. at the annual meeting of the Association of the United States Army.

The robot, developed by Ghost Robotics of Philadelphia, is the latest version of its Vision series of legged robots.

The robot is state of the art, carrying a SWORD Defense Systems Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR), which also has day and night cameras and an effective range of 1200 meters.

In an Instagram post, SWORD International referred to the robot dog as "Warfighters [sic] best friend."

But these are not Ghost Robotics's first rodeo. The company has been developing quadruped robots since 2015. Prior versions included arms for bomb disposal and even a disrupter, which can disable bombs.

On its website, the company says its quadruped robots are "agile, durable, continuous-use" and "unstoppable."

"Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or Q-UGV for short, are no longer relegated to university lab projects."
"They have a place in a broad range of government and enterprise applications where mobile robots with four legs have inherent advantages over wheels, tracks and even bipedal systems."
"Our Q-UGVs not only manage unstructured terrain well but are built for demanding customers in demanding environments."
"Our robots are faster, more durable, have greater endurance, simpler to integrate, and far easier to support versus our competitors."
"They're unstoppable, with the ability to get right back up from any slip, fall, or failure and keep moving using our proprietary blind-mode operation."
"They have to because we design and build robots to keep humans and K9s out of harm's way."

An unarmed version of these robots is even being used by the U.S. Air Force as perimeter security at the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

The Air Force announced the initiative in a May press release.

""People see these robots out walking around and they think this is a fieldable capability, but there is still a lot of development, testing and evaluation that still needs to be done."
"Having them just walk around is not what we're after."
"We want them to patrol the base using their integrated sensors to provide our forces in the base security operations center with useful, mission-critical data."

The average person, however, seems less than enthused judging from social media reactions likening the robot to dystopian fiction come to life.

Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh has dismissed suggestions the sniper rifle characteristic of this robot is an autonomous weapon system, telling New Scientist it "is fully controlled by a remote operator," neither autonomous nor aritificial intelligence.

According to Pentagon policy, all robotic weapons must be under the control of a human operator.