The Q-UGV is a robot dog very similar to those we have seen in viral videos jumping or dancing to the rhythm of music. The big difference is that this new model has a rifle in its upper part capable of killing a human being more than a kilometer away.
The Q-UGV, created by the North American companies Ghost Robotics and Sword Defense, it has attached a rifle SPUR (Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle or special purpose unmanned rifle) and has been presented this week at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army that has taken place in Washington.
As can be read on the Sword website: “[SPUR] was specifically designed to deliver precision fire from unmanned platforms like Ghost Robotics’ Vision-60 quadruped […] Thanks to its high-capacity sensors, the SPUR can operate in a variety of conditions, both day and night. ”
Latest lethality 6.5 #creedmoor sniper payload from @SWORDINT. Check out the latest partner payloads @AUSAorg Wash DC. Keeping US and allied #sof #warfighter equipped with the latest innovations. @USSOCOM #defense #defence #NationalSecurity #drone #robotics pic.twitter.com/Dvk6OvL3Bu
— Ghost Robotics (@Ghost_Robotics) October 11, 2021
The design of the Q-UGV with the SPUR on top has a cyberpunk air that is somewhat reminiscent of the two-legged robots seen in the movie Robocop. This rifle uses 6.5mm Creedmoor ammunition, which is the one used by snipers in space operations forces from the US, and is capable of taking a precision shot from more than a kilometer away.
This turns these dog robots into real snipers that they can move to dangerous places where the soldiers of flesh and blood cannot or do not want to risk to arrive.
What has not transcended is the level of autonomy that this robot will have. According indicates Popular Science, this weapon is likely going to require a human operator who is responsible for aiming and authorizing the shots. Although this would pose a problem because communication with the robot is through waves that go through the air and are potentially interceptable. If the enemy has access to the signal, they can send you false information and have the robot go to work for you.
“Weapons of terror”
Despite being unclear if this dog robot will be controlled by artificial intelligence, there are already specialists in this field who have reacted with surprise to the news.
“This crosses a moral, legal and technical line, and leads us to a dark and dangerous world,” commented to Futurism the professor of AI of the UNSW Sydney, Toby Walsh. “These weapons will be used by terrorists and rogue states. They will be weapons of terror. “
Walsh has also pointed out that, even without knowing the degree of autonomy of this robot, governments around the world are already working on drones with lethal weapons controlled by human operators and others that have the ability to kill autonomously. Specifically, he referred to a accident occurred last year in which Israel allegedly assassinated an Iranian scientist using an AI-controlled robot machine gun.
In addition to the Israeli robot referred to by Dr. Walsh, other countries such as China, Russia, UK, South Korea, Australia, or the US. they are developing theirs as well. And although all these nations, with the exception of Russia, have demonstrated at the United Nations headquarters in favor of regulating this type of autonomous weapon, there is still a long way to go to reach an agreement.
“I just hope it adds urgency to the ongoing discussions at the UN to regulate this space, and hush up the voices that say technology is too far away,” Walsh said of the Ghost Robotics robot. “It’s not”.
Boston Dynamics, The American company that created Spot and popularized this type of robot dog, has always been against equipping this type of weapon devices. He even showed his anger publicly when a collective of artists put a paintball gun on top of one of his robot dogs that was visually very similar to the one that Ghost Robotics just presented.
“Today we learned that an artistic group is planning a show to attract attention with a provocative use of our industrial robot Spot,” they commented on the matter in a statement. “To be clear, we condemn the portrayal of our technology in any way that promotes violence, harm or intimidation.”
The NGO Human Rights Watch is also fighting against this type of autonomous weapons, with its campaign to stop the ‘Killer Robots’. This NGO has presented together with researchers from Harvard University a report in which nations are urged not to delegate decisions about life and death to machines.