US Marines' special operations investigation of robot dogs armed with AI targeting rifles

to enlarge / A still image of the robotics equipped with a remote weapon system, taken from a video provided by Onyx Industries.
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The United States Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is currently evaluating a new breed of robotic “dogs” developed by Ghost Robotics, with gun systems from defense technology company Onyx Industries, Warzone reports. Has the ability to be equipped.

Although MARSOC is testing Ghost Robotics' quad-pedal unmanned ground vehicles (abbreviated as “Q-UGVs”) for a variety of applications, including reconnaissance and surveillance, it is likely that they will be used for remote engagements. Be armed with weapons that can attract the most attention. But it's not unprecedented: The US Marine Corps has also tested robotic dogs equipped with rocket launchers in the past.

MARSOC is currently in possession of two armed Q-UGVs undergoing testing, as confirmed by Onyx Industries personnel, and their gun systems are based on Onyx's SENTRY Remote Weapon System (RWS), with AI A digital imaging system operates and can detect automatically. and track people, drones, or vehicles, reporting potential targets to a remote human operator who can be located anywhere in the world. This system retains human control for fire decisions, and cannot autonomously decide to fire.

On LinkedIn, Onyx Industries shared a video of a similar system.

In a statement to the combat zone, MARSOC says weaponized payloads are just one of many use cases being evaluated. MARSOC also clarifies that comments made by Onyx Industries regarding the capabilities and deployment of these armed robot dogs in a combat zone “as a capability or of sole interest in any one of the many use cases under review.” But should not be considered.” The command further emphasized that it is aware of and adheres to all Department of Defense policies regarding autonomous weapons.

The rise of robotic unmanned ground vehicles

to enlarge / In July 2022, an unauthorized video of a gun strapped to a $3,000 Unit Tree Robodog quickly went viral on social media and prompted a response from several robotics companies.

Alexander Atmanov

Evaluation of armed robotic dogs reflects growing interest in small robotic unmanned ground vehicles for military use. While unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been providing lethal force from a distance under human command for at least two decades, the rise of inexpensive robotic quadrupeds — some available for less than $1,600 back

In July 2022, a video of a rifle bolt on the back of a Unitary Robodog went viral on social media, prompting Boston Robotics and other robot vendors to issue a pledge not to weaponize their robots (for military use) in October. with notable exceptions). In April, we covered a Unitree Go2 robot dog, with a flamethrower strapped to its back, for sale to the general public.

The prospect of deploying armed robotic dogs, even with human supervision, raises important questions about the future of warfare and the potential risks and ethical implications of increasingly autonomous weapons systems. A backlash is also likely if similar remote weapon systems are used locally by police. Such concern may not be unfounded: In November 2022, we covered the San Francisco Board of Supervisors' decision to allow the San Francisco Police Department to use lethal robots against suspects.

There is also concern that systems will become more autonomous over time. As WarZone's Howard Altman and Oliver Parkin noted in their article, “While further details on MARSOC's use of gun-armed robot dogs are limited, fielding this type of capability is inevitable at this time. As As AI-powered drone autonomy is increasingly weaponized, how long humans will stay in its grip, even for kinetic operations, is a matter of debate, despite the assurances of some in the military and industry. “

While the technology is still in the early stages of testing and evaluation, Q-UGVs have the potential to provide reconnaissance and security capabilities that reduce risks to human crews in hazardous environments. But as armed robotic systems are developed, it will be critical to address ethical concerns and ensure that their use conforms to established policies and international law.

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