A company unveiled a robotic dog armed with a sniper rifle, revealed on Thursday at a US Army event in Las Vegas.
The remote-controlled toy is a far cry from our own Shiba Inu friends, and its creators hope it will prove useful when the wars of the future end – wherever they are fought.
The peppy little terrier comes equipped with an automatic sniper rifle, and its inventors say that not only will it be able to hit targets at least a mile away, but its handlers will be able to easily manipulate the robot’s path while shooting it out of the air.
“It’s like a remotely controlled helicopter, except the user is sitting on the ground with a controller,” said John Tolentino, a founding director of Tactical Robotics Lab at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
The robot, which looks a bit like a child’s toy, was created in conjunction with the Pentagon’s R&D arm DARPA. The technology is slated to be used in scenarios where teams of soldiers cannot be present by using a robot to approach a target.
Tolentino said that while the machine has yet to be tested with real ammunition, initial tests of it with small guns proved successful.
“It’s hard to tell quite how accurate it is yet, but the goal was for it to pick up 3 or 4 rounds of bullets on a range. They [the guns] fired at it in a continuous basis, so it will evolve with the rounds,” he said.
“It’s called 1080 degrees in the shop. The handler tells the operator how far they want to fire, it fires and then the operator takes over and can start ordering it from another location,” he added.
“Once the US military starts developing missions to take out drones from above, more teams of soldiers may need the ability to return fire on incoming aircraft with a robot dog,” he said.
Tolentino and two other researchers at the university developed the robot over two years under a $1.5m grant from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).
While the Pentagon doesn’t appear to have sanctioned any specific military uses for a robot dog, DARPA has funded military testing of robots that appear similar to its peppy toy. This summer it funded the development of a humanoid robot resembling Marty McFly from Back to the Future Part II to be used in security jobs such as tasks around building site.