Spot, the robot dog from Boston Dynamics continues to gain prominence in different areas. You no longer just help New York cops patrol the streets, now he also trains to accompany the French army. According to The Verge, the android manufactured by the aforementioned US engineering firm has participated in military preparation exercises with the aim of «measure the added value of robots in combat«.
The training took place at the Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan military school, the oldest in France. The students they prepared three defensive and offensive missions. They were first tested on stage with Spot as a field reconnaissance helper and then without the Boston Dynamics robot dog. They also had the deployment of other high-tech elements such as a remote-controlled minitank called OPTIO-X20. This had a cannon and a drone to support the soldiers in the advance.
The images shared on YouTube look like something out of a science fiction movie, although they have had little of that. According to the school commander, Jean-Baptiste Cavalier, the tests have served to “sensitize students to the challenges of tomorrow,” including the “robotization of the battlefield.”
Can Boston Dynamics robot dogs be useful in real settings?
This is one of the questions that many ask themselves. How useful these robot dogs can be in combat, rescue, patrol, and more scenarios. Reports from the French army indicated that the robots slowed down the operation but kept the troops safer.. One of the soldiers who participated in the exercises was killed on stage with the bots missing on the battlefield. However, he survived when these came into action.
Spot is one of the most advanced of its kind. This robot dog is capable of carrying up to 14 kg of equipment and can be programmed for autonomous missions. It can also be controlled from afar by means of a tablet in which the operator receives live images and audio. However, it does have some weak points, for example, the battery life. Under normal conditions, can only remain operational for only 30 minutes. This disadvantage, precisely, made one of the units will run out of power in the middle of the test in military school.
You can have your own Spot Explorer for $ 74,500
The robot dog was loaned to the military by European distributor Shark Robotics and Nexter Group, although Boston Dynamics said it had no knowledge of the deployment, The Vergue reported. Although at the beginning of the project, the American company behind the bots received funding from the American military, through DARPA, over time it has been moving away from its military use. The current terms of the firm prohibit their use to “harm or intimidate any person or animal, as a weapon or to enable any weapon.”
As of January 23, 2020, the SDK (software development kit) is available to anyone. Also, on June 26 the same year, the company released the sale of Spot Explorer to the general public. The price?: $ 74,500. SpaceX has been one of the first customers. He has used the robot dog to and inspect “potentially dangerous” sites on the Boca Chica test platform.