Russian engineers have developed a robotic dog capable of carrying and firing weapons, according to Russian media outlets.
The robot premiered Monday at Russia’s Army-2022 International Military-Technical Forum, a week-long arms conference. However, surprisingly, the M-81, Russia’s new state-of-the-art rocket launcher-toting quadruped robot, appears to be available for a few grand on Alibaba’s Aliexpress.com.
The military conference is taking place amid Russia’s six-month-long war with Ukraine. The expo, organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense and inaugurated by Russian President Vladimir Putin, runs from August 15 to 22 at the Patriot Park in Kubinka.
The M-81 video, which Russian state media agency RIA Novosti released, rapidly went viral. According to reports, the robot was created by the Russian technical firm “Intellect Machine.” The M-81’s designers claimed that the device could transport and fire weapons and ammunition.
The RPG-26 light anti-armour weapon was attached to the back of the M-81, and an optical targeting system was attached to the launcher’s side. The robot dog can support the weight of an RPG-26 anti-tank rocket launcher and an optical targeting system. However, because the RPG-26 has a minimal recoil for a weapon of its type, it is debatable if it can withstand the pressure of launching a large projectile or targeting it remotely.
The Russian robot was dressed intriguingly in a black silk coverall. This now appears to have been done to obscure the M-81’s commercially available robot.
Indeed the ‘robot dog’ resembles Unitree Robotics’ UnitreeYushuTechnologyDog, which can be purchased online for $2,700.
The optical sensors on the front of the robot’s head, which are partially concealed by the cloth covering, look to be the same shape as those on the Go1.
Go1 robots have already been sighted in Russia; perhaps the militarised M-81 is simply using the Go1 as a testbed.
This would not be the first time a Russian organization offered a smart robot that turned out to be knowingly deceptive. For example, in 2018, ‘Robot Boris’ was shown to be a guy wearing a suit.