Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or Q-UGV, most commonly recognized by their dog-like appearances, may be making their way onto the battlefields of the world in the not so distant future.
The weaponized robot dogs are reminiscent of the mechanized "Ranger" in the upcoming video game Battlefield 2042.
At the Association of the United States Army's 2021 annual conference in Washington DC earlier this week, Ghost Robotics and Sword International debuted one of these robot dogs fitted with a highly accurate unmanned gun, according to The Verge.
The robot, a Vision 60 unit build by Ghost Robotics, was seen at the conference fitted with a custom built gun made by the small-arms specialist Sword International. The special purpose unmanned rifle, or SPUR, "was specifically designed to offer precision fire from unmanned platforms," according to Sword.
The gun, manufactured to fit Vision 60 models of robots and similar products, boasts a 30x optical zoom, a thermal camera for targeting in the dark, and an effective range of 1,200 meters.
It is currently unclear whether the combination of gun and robot is available for purchase, but in a marketing copy of the gun on Sword's website, they state, "The SWORD Defense Systems SPUR is the future of unmanned weapon systems, and that future is now."
While details about the partnership between the two companies is unclear, the Q-UGV manufactured by Ghost has started testing with the US military.
Last year, Tyndall Air Force Base and the 325th Security Forces Squadron announced that it would be one of the first Air Force bases to use these semi-autonomous robot dogs during their patrolling regiment.
"We are very excited," said Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander. "We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations."
"These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren't desirable for human beings and vehicles," Criss said.
Criss noted that the robots would be used to patrol areas that "aren't desirable for human beings and vehicles," and could be operated by use of virtual-reality headsets.
According to The Verge, "As well as providing remote video and mapping, the machines could be used as mobile cell towers, to defuse bombs, or to detect chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear matter (otherwise known as CBRN)."
While the technology could provide vast advancements to the military, some groups are urging against their weaponization.
Boston Dynamics, the robotics company most known for their version of the quadrupedal robots, with their version being named Spot, has a policy against weaponizing their models.
Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is pushing for a preemptive ban of fully-autonomous weaponized robots, saying that "Fully autonomous weapons would decide who lives and dies, without further human intervention, which crosses a moral threshold. As machines, they would lack the inherently human characteristics such as compassion that are necessary to make complex ethical choices."