A robot dog design armed with a 6.5 mm Creedmoor sniper rifle capable of precisely hitting targets from 3,940 feet away has been unveiled at the US Army trade show.
The 'Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle' (SPUR) is the brainchild of Philadelphia-based Ghost Robotics and arms manufacturer SWORD International of Sparks, Nevada.
Placed on top of one of Ghost Robotics' existing 'quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicle' designs, SPUR can be remotely instructed to load, unload and fire its rifle.
The firms have yet to reveal the exact configuration of the weapon, nor how much ammunition the machine is capable of carrying or its reload rate.
However, tests have shown that the 6.5mm rounds used in the Creedmoor rifle offer an increase in range over the 7.62x51mm cartridges currently used by US forces.
It is also presently unclear how much each robot unit and SPUR attachment will cost to purchase and maintain.
The arming of robots with SPUR — while arguably an inevitable development not that distinct from other unmanned ground weapons — is still likely to stir up controversy.
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A robot dog design armed with a 6.5 mm Creedmoor sniper rifle (pictured) capable of precisely hitting targets from 3,940 feet away has been unveiled at the US Army trade show
While SPUR might be straining at the leash to join the battlefield, Ghost Robotics' better-known rival, Boston Dynamics, have said that they condemn any application of their Spot dog that even appears to promote 'violence, harm or intimidation.'
The firm made the comments back in February, after New York-based start-up MSCHF (pronounced 'mischief') mounted a Spot machine with a paintball gun and let the public use it to shoot up an art gallery.
Nevertheless, Boston Dynamics' does not appear to have the same concerns around policing and enforcement applications — with Spot already being used as a pair of remote eyes in hazardous situations and to patrol parks in Singapore during COVID-19.
'Due to its highly capable sensors, the SPUR can operate in a magnitude of conditions, both day and night,' the developers announced at the army trade show.
'The SWORD Defense Systems SPUR is the future of unmanned weapons system — and that future is now,' they added.
An advantage to giving an armed robot a four-footed design like SPUR's comes from the stability this quadrupedal arrangement offers.
'When our robots move around and you shove them, these forces