It was only a matter of time before someone put a gun on a robot quadruped. Unexpectedly, the first real robotic gundog wasn’t a Spot. The SPUR, otherwise known as the Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle, is a walking weapons platform from a company called Sword International.
The robotic part of this thing was made by a company called Ghost Robotics, which makes robots for military purposes. This particular robot is a Vision 60, which draws design inspiration from Boston Dynamics’ Spot. The major difference? There’s a bloody great big gun mounted on top of the SPUR.
Raking your SPURs
Sword International’s robot is the kind of thing folks have been worried about for years. It’s not quite an autonomous killer robot, but it’s absolutely an unmanned weapon of war. It’s all the more terrifying because of what it can do and how hard it would be to stop if it showed up in your backyard.
See, in addition to its legs designed for scampering away and a relatively lightweight 8kg frame (so don’t count on kicking it over and running away), the SPUR is mounted by a bloody great big rifle. The weapon uses a ten-round magazine, is chambered for either 6.5 Creedmoor or 7.62 x 51 NATO rounds, and has an effective range of 1,200 metres. It’s helped along in its robotic sniping by a 30x optical zoom camera, a Flir thermal camera, and a ceramic coating designed to mask the unit from third-generation night-vision technology.
So it’s compact, hard to see even when using night-vision, can shoot at you from over a kilometre away, and has no visible human operator. A lone human going up against the SPUR with a shotgun would probably have a hard time taking the robotic combat drone out, since it’s also packed with a range of day/night sensors.
In short, it’s exactly the sort of thing that makes military leaders open their wallets. And that should be absolutely terrifying. Boston Dynamics rightly got very upset when Spot was fitted with a paintball gun, but Ghost Robotics doesn’t seem to mind the real thing. And where one goes, others are likely to follow.