The invasion of Ukraine pushes on with Russian soldiers still attempting to take over the country. The Ukrainian people have made heavy use of cutting-edge tech in their defence, from AI Facial Recognition to Holograms. Now, they’re turning to robot dogs.
America lends Ukraine robot dogs
In order to help the country push back against Russia, American has lent two robot dogs to the Ukrainian military. According to Foreign Policy, these robots will be integral to a mass cleanup of the war-torn region.
Two versions of Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot will be used across the country, cleaning up Russian munitions. Dormant weapons like land mines and mortar shells will be discovered by the dogs, allowing them to be properly disarmed and moved.
Instead of the robot dog’s usual head, Spot will be outfitted with a robotic arm to drag munitions away. These munitions will then be taken to a huge pit, allowing them to be safely exploded far away from civilians.
“If you can just move something without endangering a human and move it far enough that you can take it to a place where it can be safely detonated with other items, you move up the curve massively,” said Chris Wheatley, the director of the initiative.
The tests have been successful
The introduction of robot dogs into the Ukrainian military’s cleanup crew has been tested before. In numerous tests, Spot was tasked with cleaning up “small volatile rounds”, similar to the ones that Russia has left all over the country.
According to Wheatley, these tests proved effective. This means that Spot can successfully clear and move dangerous explosives within Ukraine. However, we don’t know what the success/failure rate is.
According to the Ukrainian military, Russia’s hidden munitions are more than plentiful. The situation has been described as a near World War II level of cleanup. For the uninitiated, that’s a lot.
Boston Dynamics robots cannot be militarised
Of course, the introduction of robotics into the military is one that has been often criticised as dystopian, especially here. While robot dogs are becoming prominent tools in the military, Boston Dynamics refuses to allow Spot to be militarised.
This means that while Ukraine can use Spot to clean up hazardous and dangerous materials, it cannot use the tech for warfare. So, no, the Ukrainian military will not be using robot dogs for killing… yet.
On the other hand, robot dogs are becoming more dangerous military tools. Robotics company Ghost Robotics have created robot dogs with rifles on their backs, as well as robots that can literally be controlled with brainwaves. It’s a dangerous time.