A Russian company presented a four-legged machine equipped with a rocket launcher and wrapped in black fabric at an arms fair in Russia. It is actually a model developed by a Chinese startup, sold at a good price, without real use on a battlefield.
We are still far from the Terminator with the look of Schwarzenegger. A Russian company, named Intellect Machine, unveiled a dog robot equipped with a rocket launcher at an arms fair (Army 2022) on August 15, 2022 in Moscow. The machine, dubbed M-81, is wrapped in black tights – which gives it the look of a ninja dog – and carries an RPG-26 on its back, an anti-tank weapon.
The RIA Novosti news agency – under Kremlin supervision – described the craft as capable of working in emergency areas “ for reconnaissance, walking through rubble and delivering medicine “. The director of the company explains that: this range of robots is inspired by the animal world to accomplish the tasks assigned to the product “.
A low cost model, not usable by the military
Problem: the robot is not developed by the company in question at all, but by the Chinese startup Unitree. Under the black tights hides the GO1 model sold for 2,700 dollars (about 2,650 euros) on the official website and available on the AliExpress e-commerce platform for 4,687 euros. The Russian company probably wanted to hide the identifiable elements of the Chinese brand. The latter was itself inspired by the famous Boston Dynamics robot, Spot, on sale in the professional environment.
The “Intel Takes” Twitter account, specializing in open source news, even found the leader of the company “Intellect Machine”, a wealthy lawyer from St. Petersburg who started his business last February, after discovering the Chinese robot at a previous tech fair. He then funded the DIY of the craft by engineers and skillfully shared the first shooting tests on YouTube. The videos quickly made the rounds of the web, the staging suggesting that the robot would be able to attack soldiers on a battlefield.
Three weeks later, a hacker already revealed a way to deactivate the robot remotely, by copying the machine’s stop signal with a remote control. This example shows one of the many limitations of the use of “robot dogs” by the military.
Models equipped with weapons have already been unveiled in salons previously. The American armies, British and French, have all tested this category of device, exclusively for reconnaissance.
Apart from field analysis work – which Boston Dynamics products already do for construction companies – dog robots have nothing to do on a battlefield. They are too fragile, still very dependent on humans and largely overwhelmed by humans in terms of movement. There’s no point right now in sending a multi-thousand dollar device to blow its legs off.