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China’s Gun-Toting Robot Dogs on the Loose – Should We Be Worried?

Daniel Kim Views  

AP-Yonhap News

Concerns have arisen recently over the imminent deployment of robot dogs equipped with rifles in Chinese military training. This follows the unveiling of combat robot dogs in the United States, indicating a rivalry between the two countries in developing military robots.

According to China’s state-run CCTV on May 30, the People’s Liberation Army(PLA) showcased a robot dog equipped with an assault rifle for the first time during recent joint training with Cambodia. Chen Wei, an academician at the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Academy of Military Medical Sciences, said in an interview with CCTV, “It can serve as a new member in our urban combat operations, replacing our (human) members to conduct reconnaissance and identify (the) enemy and strike the target.”

In the video released by the PLA, the robot dog is seen jumping, lifting its hind legs, leading the team, and firing a rifle during training. Unitree Robotics, a Chinese robotics company, first captured attention when its robot dog appeared in Shanghai during the 2022 COVID-19 lockdown. Equipped with a loudspeaker on its back, the robot issued stay-at-home orders to residents.

Unitree had previously stated it would not sell its products to the Chinese military, and it is unknown how the PLA acquired the robot dog. The company explained that its products were manufactured for civilian use and was not involved in deploying them for military purposes.

They sell similar robot dogs on Amazon that resemble those used by the PLA.

Global Times cited an anonymous expert and reported, “The drills show that the PLA has been intensively testing multiple types of robot dogs in terms of technologies and tactics.”

The Financial Times (FT) noted that this demonstrates how difficult it is to prevent investment in startups from being militarized.

The unveiling of the PLA’s robot dog is expected to strengthen the U.S. government’s determination to block the use of U.S. funds to promote Chinese military technology. Last August, the Biden administration announced an order restricting U.S. financial support to China, viewing advanced technology as potentially aiding the Chinese military. The U.S. Senate also passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last year to strengthen investigations into and restrict business related to investments in China.

Earlier, the U.S. military has also been revealed to be training to deploy robotic dogs in military operations. According to U.S. military media, the U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is testing a robot dog with an artificial intelligence (AI)-based rifle. The robot dog, developed by U.S. quadruped robot developer Ghost Robotics, is equipped with a defense company, Onyx Industries’ AI-based rifle system. It is designed to automatically monitor and track people, drones, vehicles, etc., and report potential target locations to remote operators. Last month, the US saw the sale of a robot dog, “Thermonator,” equipped with a flamethrower, sparking safety concerns as it is not regulated like firearms.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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