This week, a military robot maker, Ghost Robotics has attached a sniper rifle to the back of a quadrupedal robot dog before presenting its deadly creation at the Association of the U.S. Army’s main annual convention in Washington, D.C.
The company shows the Q-UGV carrying a 6.5mm Creedmoor rifle from weapon company SWORD International. The system called the Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle, or SPUR, has created a debate on social media.
In a separate Instagram post, SWORD International stated its involvement with SPUR is “keeping [its special ops] teams armed with the latest lethality innovation.”
One commenter said “so y’all saw two Blade Runners, a Westworld show and movie, 10 Terminator movies, two Battlestar Galactica shows, I, Robot and still thought this was a good idea[?]” Another said Ghost Robotics has created “a soulless piece of hardware for brutal population suppression when the billionaires finally fear for their ill-gotten gains.” Another simply stated, “this is literally the Metalhead episode of Black Mirror.”
The main concern is that the robot dogs have been used in public spaces and now they have the ability to carry killing guns.
In Singapore, a Boston Dynamics Spot robot was used to implement social distancing rules in 2020. Robotics also has a connection with law enforcement in the U.S. In December 2020, the New York Police Department trialed a Boston Dynamics Spot robot for law enforcement.
In 2015, Elon Musk, Noam Chomsky, and Stephen Hawking signed an open letter requested the United Nations to ban killer robots, as most of the AI researchers “have no interest in building AI weapons.” The Stop Killer Robots Campaign has also gained popularity lately and has been joined by ex-employees of big tech firms like Google after its involvement in Project Maven, which helped in improving the US military drone technology.
On its website, SWORD says “the [SPUR] was specifically designed to offer precision fire from unmanned platforms such as the Ghost Robotics Vision-60 quadruped. Due to its highly capable sensors, the SPUR can operate in a magnitude of conditions, both day and night.”