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Robot dog meets night-vision sniper rifle


US-based Sword Defense Systems has just fitted a Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (or ‘SPUR’) onto the back of a quadruped robotic dog built by Ghost Robotics, another US company.

Sword Defense Systems has just fitted a SPUR onto the back of a quadruped robotic dog built by Ghost Robotics - CAD type image shown

Avid readers of science fiction may recall Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics - the first law states: “A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm”. Controversially, that is all about to change.

SPUR has been designed to fit on the back of a variety of robotic platforms and is capable of precision fire at targets up to 1.2km (0.75 miles) away. It weighs 17lb (7.7 kg) and includes a thermal camera with a 30X optical zoom, capable of discerning targets in daylight or at night.

According to Sword Defense Systems, it also features safe, chamber, clear, and fire capabilities that allow for safe and reliable deployment of the weapon system. This provides the operator with the ability to load and safe the weapon at a distance. Therefore, it’s clear the system is not fully autonomous and still has a man in the loop. Nevertheless, this is clearly a first step in a fully autonomous direction.

It’s worth noting that there continues to be extensive international debate about the use of lethal autonomous weapons. In an article by authors from the University of Queensland, it states that Automatic Weapon Systems are not prohibited, as such. Yet, there are requirements, such as they must distinguish combatants from civilians and take all foreseeable measures to prevent harm to civilians.

Source: Sword Defense Systems, 26th October 2021