HomeTech Meet the latest weapon of the Chinese army: the armed dog

Meet the latest weapon of the Chinese army: the armed dog

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Meet the latest weapon of the Chinese army: the armed dog

The Chinese military has unveiled its latest weapon: an armed robotic dog.

The mechanical canine, which has an automatic rifle on its back, was front and center in recent joint military exercises with Cambodia. according to images from state broadcaster CCTV.

The dog was backed by a similarly armed quadcopter in the exercises, in which the machines were paired with human soldiers in simulated urban assaults. “He can serve as a new member in our urban combat operations, replacing our human members to conduct reconnaissance and identify the enemy and attack the target,” Chen Wei, a Chinese soldier, said in the video.

While they may be technologically advanced, killer robots are not fancy pieces of military hardware; Both the dog and the drone appear to be ready-made pieces of consumer technology with a conventional rifle screwed on top. On the side you can clearly see the brand of the Chinese company that built the dog, Unitree Robotics.

Prices for the company’s Go2 robot dog start at $1,600 (£1,300), according to Unitree’s website. The company He denied selling products to the Chinese military. and it is not clear how the army achieved it.

A Chinese soldier tests a robot dog before equipping it with a machine gun. Cambodia and China began their annual Golden Dragon military exercise on Thursday. Photograph: Heng Sinith/AP

The robot dog archetype was developed and made famous by Boston Dynamics, at one time a subsidiary of Google. It has long had connections with the US military; the initial version of your “robotic quadruped”, BigDog, was developed as a potential mechanical pack animal for the military. But the company, which Google sold to Softbank in 2017 and then to Hyundai in 2020, has always steered clear of actively weaponizing its technology.

According to Boston Dynamics founder Marc Raibert, who spoke at the Seoul AI Summit last week, there are “about 1,500” of the company’s “Spot” dogs worldwide. “But recently other robot companies have emerged that build some pretty incredible robots,” he said. “It’s very exciting to go from the research laboratory to commercialization.”

That “emergence” also means that Boston Dynamics’ refusal to weaponize its technology no longer prevents the military and law enforcement from getting their own armed robots. In 2021, Ghost Robotics demonstrated a Vision 60 robot dog armed with a custom gun built by Sword Internationaland by 2023 The US military confirmed it was actively exploring how to use such a system in the field.. In 2022, China demonstrates another armed robot being transported and deposited at a training center by a drone.

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But while the systems are robotic, they are still not typically autonomous. CCTV footage shows the dog Go2 being controlled by a soldier with a handheld device. The concern of many observers is what will happen if that human link is reduced, with artificial intelligence systems that can act faster and with lower latency than a human operator.

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