Remembers the episode “Metalhead” from the series Black Mirror, with those robot dogs hunting the surviving humans in a dystopian future ? It seems that fiction is starting to come true. An image shared on Twitter by military robot maker Ghost Robotics is, to say the least, disturbing.
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In the recently published post you can see a quadruped robot dog with an automatic rifle — used by snipers — strapped to the back with the caption: “Keeping our special operations teams armed with the latest innovation in lethality.”
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The innovation, in this case, is called Special Use Unmanned Rifle (SPUR). The system features a high-precision 6.6mm Creedmoor weapon used by snipers on the battlefield to hit moving and static targets over long distances.
The robotic dog made its debut in the showroom at the US Army Association’s annual convention held at North American country. The “attraction” was introduced as the first unmanned system equipped with a lethal long-range weapon.
According to Ghost Robotics, the SPUR can be remotely instructed by a human operator to clean the barrel, load the ammo and protect the weapon. The rifle is already equipped with a silencer installed on the front, making it difficult for opponents to determine where the shot came from.
“Our robot dog is capable of shooting accurately at a distance of up to 1.10 meters. This unmanned system also features impressive stabilization capabilities as a result of its four-legged design and multiple built-in sensors that aid mobility,” says Ghost Robotics CEO Jiren Parikh.
So far, Ghost Robotics hasn’t gone into details about the cyber brain that powers SPUR, nor about the level of autonomy that the robot-dog has in decision-making situations. All that is known is that it operates with an
artificial intelligence system (AI) able to identify possible threats.
SPUR can be controlled remotely (Image: Playback/Ghost Robotics)
The company does not make it clear whether the robot will only detect and stop potential enemies, while waiting for the command of a human operator to start shooting, or whether the machine will be capable of firing without the need for controller approval.
Whatever the answer, the simple image of an armed robot raises serious ethical questions about the role of machines used by security forces. A comment in the Ghost Robotics post shows the concern is real: “This is sad. In what world is this a good idea?
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