Killer technology: US manufacturer builds roaming robotic gun

“Unmanned Rifle”
Killer technology: Weapons manufacturer builds robotic rifles that run around

It has been scary for a long time when robots are clever at running. Now the fear of the danger posed by the machines is likely to reach a new level: A US manufacturer has presented a walking rifle.

Running over hill and dale through the forest, jumping and being able to get up again after a fall: four-legged robot dogs like those from Boston Dynamics have been making spectacular shots over and over again in recent years. And for fear that someone could misuse the self-sufficient machines for dark purposes. This concern is now likely to become even greater: The company Sword International has presented an attachment that turns four-legged friends into walking firearms.

The “special purpose unmanned rifle” (for example: unmanned rifle for special operations), SPUR for short, is only the attachment that is installed on a four-legged robot of the Vision 60 model from the manufacturer Ghost Robotics. The structure of the four-legged friend is strongly reminiscent of the well-known spot from Boston Dynamics, the SPUR attachment makes it look like a walking tank.

Rifle on legs

The weapon system has it all. Lightly armored, NATO ammunition and 6.5 Creedmoor cartridges can be loaded and then sent into action. According to the manufacturer, the shots reach an effective range of 1200 meters. To make the meeting easier, the attachment also offers a camera with 30x zoom as well as a thermal imaging camera that allows you to aim at living targets even at night. Up to ten shots can be fired before reloading is necessary.

If you read the description on the product page, the SPUR is particularly suitable for stalking targets under dangerous conditions in order to be able to fire shots without endangering the people using them. The manufacturer advertises that the weapon is suitable for use in a variety of terrains, day and night

What is not clear from the description is whether the question of whether the SPUR can also shoot independently. The maneuvering of the robot is largely independent, but a camera with zoom could be installed, but this could indicate that the shot ultimately has to be fired manually by a human. Against this, the formulation of the Unmanned Rifle speaks against it.

Lots of open questions

It is unclear whether and when the robot rifle will actually be sold in this way. However, a promotional phrase on the product page suggests that it could be offered in the near future. “The Sword Defense SPUR is the future of the unmanned weapons system. And that future is now,” says the description.

The manufacturer also does not reveal who exactly the target group of the robot rifle should be. The US military is already testing the use of the Vision 60, but so far it has generally been used as a support and reconnaissance machine. The robots can be used as mobile transmitter masts, they can scout out potentially dangerous buildings or areas or use sensors to detect possible sources of danger such as gas or other chemicals. As a weapon are currently not in use.

It seems more and more likely that robots will also be used as fighters in the near future. Although some manufacturers such as Boston Dynamics refuse to offer their own robots as a combat variant, other manufacturers do not share these scruples. Russia also tested a robot in 2017 that drove through the area while firing – albeit with two pistols in its mechanical hands.

Those: Sword International, via The Verge


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