US Marines Special Ops test rifle-wielding, AI-powered robot dogs, report says

US Marines Special Ops test rifle-wielding, AI-powered robot dogs, report says
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A Vision 60 "robot dog."
A Vision 60 “robot dog” (without rifle).

  • The US Marines are testing rifle-equipped robot dogs, The War Zone reported.
  • The robotic dog was made by Ghost Robotics. Onyx Industries supplied the rifle system.
  • The Marine Forces Special Operations Command said it was “not fielding this capability at this time.”

The US Marine Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is testing rifle-equipped “robot dogs,” according to a report in The War Zone.

The systems are based on the Vision 60 quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicle (Q-UGV) — a midsize, “all-weather ground drone” developed by the Philadelphia-based firm Ghost Robotics.

The Department of Defense has been testing the Q-UGV for several years, using its AI and data analysis capabilities to detect potential threats to military assets.

But MARSOC now appears to be evaluating the addition of offensive capabilities to the machine.

The special forces command unit has two robot dogs equipped with Onyx Industries’ SENTRY remote weapon system — one with a 7.62×39 mm caliber rifle and the other with a 6.5 mm Creedmoor caliber rifle, Eric Shell, a business development manager at Onyx Industries, told The War Zone.

He said that MARSOC used the systems in “tunnel work” and “perimeter security,” but he declined to say where.

A video posted to Onyx’s LinkedIn account shows one of the rifle-equipped machines in action.

MARSOC said in a statement to The War Zone following the initial report that the Q-UGV was being tested “as one of many pieces of technology in ground robotics evaluation.”

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“MARSOC is not fielding this capability at this time. Weapons are just one of many potential payloads for this piece of technology, and others may include ISR or EW payloads,” it continued. “MARSOC is aware of and follows all DoD policy on autonomous weapons, and comments by Onyx Industries may be more indicative of their current or future offerings.”

Business Insider has reached out to Onyx Industries and MARSOC for comment.

The 112-lb Vision 60 drone has a top speed of 10 feet per second and can cover up to 10 km, or around 6.2 miles, per Ghost Robotics. It has a maximum payload of about 22 pounds and can operate at full power for three hours, the company adds on its website.

The drone is powered by an Nvidia Xavier chip, and it can be assembled or disassembled in just 15 minutes, per the site.

In a 2022 test of the Vision 60 by the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate, participants found the drone controls easy and its software “intuitive.”

They added that they were impressed with its ability “to recover after a fall and return to a neutral standing position.”

However, the participants noted that the drone struggled to remain upright on slippery surfaces and highlighted an issue with selecting the correct operational modes for different terrains.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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