If these tests turn out successful, that horrific Black Mirror scenario where humans were hunted down by robotic dogs might actually become reality.
The French Army just started using Boston Dynamics’ Spot the robotic dog in actual combat training, testing it alongside other robots.
On Twitter, military school École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan said the exercises are meant to prepare students for “the combat fields of tomorrow”.
Spot was joined by Ultro, a robotic mule, Barakuda, a wheeled drone that gives cover to soldiers using armored plating, and OPTIO-X20, a robotic vehicle using tank treads and equipped with an auto cannon.
So, is Boston Dynamics supplying robot dogs to the army, just a month after distancing themselves from this project?
No. The Spot robot used by the French military was lended to them by European distributor Shark Robotics and Nexter Group, without the knowledge of Boston Dynamics.
Asked by TheVerge for their position on this particular application, they said that they knew the French government and military used them but that “we’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement”.
In the terms of service for Spot the robotic dog, the company says buyers are not allowed to use it “to harm or intimidate any person or animal, as a weapon, or to enable any weapon” – so nothing about scouting or reconnaissance.
Boston Dynamics themselves clarified their position for the Verge, saying that “we think that the military, to the extent that they do use robotics to take people out of harm’s way, we think that’s a perfectly valid use of the technology.”
Meawhile, in the US, the NYPD actually raided a house using a Digidog robot, another one of Boston Dynamics’ creation. The move was slammed by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who claimed this tech will be unfairly deployed on low-income communities of color.
What do you think?