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Gamifying War: US Army plans to mount assault rifles, LMGs on AI-enabled robot dogs

In a development that would spell nightmares for some people, the US military plans to give some of their robot dogs the abilities of AI and throw guns into the mix.

If everything goes as planned, the US military will soon have AI-enabled robodogs with guns like AR-15s, SCAR, or even an LMG mounted to their backs, which they can then fire at will.

According to a report from Military.com, a spokesperson for the US Army has indicated that the military branch is working on equipping remote-controlled robot dogs with advanced rifles to explore future combat possibilities. They will then give the dogs some AI capabilities that will allow them to choose their targets and aims.

The concept is relatively straightforward: to affix a rifle onto a robotic dog for various military tasks and deploy it in unspecified battlefield scenarios.

Initially reported earlier this month by the intelligence service Janes, this initiative appears to have received tentative confirmation from a spokesperson.

The Army’s interest revolves around attaching a weapon to one of Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Q-UGV). This robotic platform is positioned as a competitor to Boston Dynamics’ well-known robodog, which entities like the New York Police Department have employed.

In previous reports, scientific researcher Bhavanjot Singh from the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) mentioned that the Army had already initiated experiments involving attaching various types of weaponry to Q-UGVs. However, he indicated that upcoming investigations would focus on evaluating the robotic dogs’ specific capabilities, akin to actual canines.

Singh emphasized that one of the unique attributes of these robot dogs is their ability to navigate diverse terrains that may be inaccessible to wheeled vehicles. He made this statement at a gathering of lawmakers in late July, where one of the armed robodog units was showcased.

Nevertheless, according to note, the interest and experimentation in this area don’t necessarily translate into an immediate deployment of gun-equipped robotic dogs on the battlefield, according to DEVCOM spokesperson Tim Ryder.

Ryder clarified that while advanced technology demonstrations enable the exploration of potential transformative capabilities for future combat formations, they do not automatically lead to formal service-wide research programs or investments.

The prospect of these experiments does raise ethical questions and introduces a novel dimension to military technology. It appears that the military’s exploration of these robotic dogs represents a unique and potentially contentious avenue of development.

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