Robot dogs don't look as cute with night-vision sniper rifles on board
You've seen Spot run. You've seen Spot jump. You've seen Spot do cute little booty-shaking dance routines. Now, see Spot fire lethal weapons. Sword Defense Systems has presented a precision rifle for robot dogs, capable of nailing targets 1.2 km (0.75 miles) away.
The Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle, or SPUR, fits on the back of your robot dog of choice – in this case, the Vision-60 quadruped from Ghost Robotics. It weighs 17 lb (7.7 kg), and packs a Teledyne FLIR Boson thermal camera with a 30X optical zoom, capable of picking out targets in daylight or at night.
It fires 6.5 mm Creedmoor rounds, or 7.62 x 51 mm NATO rounds at a pinch, with a 10-round magazine. The SPUR assembly has a ceramic coating designed to make it harder for night vision systems to see it.
The relatively light recoil of the Creedmoor rounds shouldn't pose too much of a balance issue for these robo-dogs, considering they've spent their early years getting pushed around with brooms and hockey sticks. Personally, I'll be throwing out all brooms and hockey sticks in the house. It wasn't me, guys!
There's no indication that this system will be autonomous at this point, although the technology most certainly exists and it would be unsurprising to see this kind of device enter military service as at least a semi-autonomous killing machine at some point.
Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics remain in the world of fiction at this stage. According to the University of Queensland's School of Law, autonomous weapons systems are not currently prohibited by any international laws, provided they can distinguish combatants from civilians, take all foreseeable measures to prevent harm to civilians, and take precautions to verify they're attacking lawful targets, minimizing collateral damage and providing advance warnings to civilians where possible.
Ghost Robotics presented the SPUR as one of several "partner payloads" for the Vision-60 robot at the NDIA Future Force Capabilities conference in Columbus, Georgia. The company tagged the US Special Operations Command in the Twitter post below, but it's unclear whether the system has any buyers yet or whether it's merely being presented as a concept.
Latest lethality 6.5 #creedmoor sniper payload from @SWORDINT. Check out the latest partner payloads @AUSAorg Wash DC. Keeping US and allied #sof #warfighter equipped with the latest innovations. @USSOCOM #defense #defence #NationalSecurity #drone #robotics pic.twitter.com/Dvk6OvL3Bu— Ghost Robotics (@Ghost_Robotics) October 11, 2021