Robotic dog turns up the heat with a flamethrower backpack
If you thought that putting a rifle on a robotic dog was daft enough, what about one with an actual flamethrower on its back? Not just a concept, Throwflame is taking preorders for its Thermonator flamethrower-wielding quadruped robot for those who feel their life would be incomplete without one.
As robotic dogs become more sophisticated, they've demonstrated any number of new capabilities. They can avoid obstacles, they can handle jerking blows that you'd expect to knock them down, they herd sheep, and when they have a moment to themselves they can do cute little dances.
However, the question that's apparently been at the forefront of some people's mind has been, when are they going to start running around with flamethrowers?
The answer is now. Throwflame has been known for some time for offering a collection of seriously out-there flamethrowers and even selling one mounted on a rotorcraft drone. To this lineup the company has added the Thermonator, which combines a quadruped robotic dog with its modular, electric-powered ARC Flamethrower burning gasoline or a gasoline/diesel mix, which allows the robot to shoot a jet of flame about 30 ft (10 m) for 30 seconds.
The robotic half of this mobile cigar lighter hasn't been formally identified, but it seems to be a Unitree GO1 built by Unitree Robotics. This has four legs with 12 degrees of freedom, allowing it to walk, run, climb stairs, avoid obstacles, handle rough terrain, sit, and lie down. It also has artificial intelligence for navigation and for tracking or following human beings.
Add a flamethrower and it can also scare the bejeezus out of them.
The Thermonator may rate on the cool meter, but there is a practical side to this mischief. Flamethrowers are used for destroying weeds, burning crop stubble, controlled burns in forest management, and other tasks that can be unpleasant, if not outright dangerous, so giving the job to a robot has its upsides.
The Thermonator is available for pre-order with deliveries later this year. No price is quoted, though the ARC Flamethrower sells individually for a base price of US$699 and the GO1 goes for $2,700.
The video below shows the Thermonator applying some heat.