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.
Latest lethality 6.5 #creedmoor sniper payload from @SWORDINT. Check out the latest partner payloads @AUSAorg Wash… https://t.co/kMvuaLgv8Y— Ghost Robotics (@Ghost Robotics) 1633993372.0
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.
If we ever manage to put the pandemic behind us we’ll then have to battle the rise of the machines. https://t.co/6RcUqgXN6m— ~Jachnun Supremacist~ נפתלי בן מתתיהו (@~Jachnun Supremacist~ נפתלי בן מתתיהו) 1634281763.0
Ray Bradbury been knew this was coming. https://t.co/reZC0EYosy— DeansDaughter (@DeansDaughter) 1634388052.0
Who’s looking forward to seeing these little guys in your town for “preventing domestic terrorism”? https://t.co/YQq4mQ7nju— Flames R Us (@Flames R Us) 1634413525.0
Maybe we can all escape to the metaverse... anyone else concerned that rality seem to be heading towards a combinat… https://t.co/3ug44iIOYT— Austen Angell (@Austen Angell) 1634235910.0
Cool... are we thinking this is going to be an iRobot or Terminator situation? https://t.co/JwNYDklsbg— Huw Lewis (@Huw Lewis) 1634435274.0
Are we watching the backstory to Terminator? https://t.co/0yEA8y1xkz— Michael Scott (@Michael Scott) 1634240113.0
These are going to be used against striking workers, protestors and pipeline blockades, without a doubt. https://t.co/vqeIOtZeHX— Douggie Hundo (@Douggie Hundo) 1634250485.0
Putting guns on robot dogs so they could be used for cops and war was the plot twist you saw coming from the first… https://t.co/TWvPn6uV6Y— Vaxton P. Hartnabrig. (@Vaxton P. Hartnabrig.) 1634412444.0
New tyrannical suppression tool just dropped https://t.co/QOm0lLmEt0— El Vogel (@El Vogel) 1634139185.0
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.