Robotic dog-mounted rifles are now a thing thanks to US Army

The US Army is considering arming a robot dog with its next-generation rifle to create a weapons support platform that can traverse various terrains.
Christopher McFadden
Ghost Robotics Vision 60
Ghost Robotics Vision 60

Ghost Robotics

The United States Army is experimenting with arming a "robotic dog" with its next-generation rifle.

The robot, a Ghost Robotics-made Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV), is also fitted with a sophisticated suite of sensors for surveillance and other support roles for the Army, Janes reported.

Deadly robotic dog

The service is considering integrating the robot with the Sig Sauer XM7 Rifle, explains Janes. This is interesting but not the first attempt at this sort of thing. For example, the Army has previously tested using an M4A1 carbine on a Q-UGV. However, if they were to try the Sig Sauer XM7 rifle, it would be a new development in exploring the capabilities of unmanned robots that mimic dogs' abilities.

“The unique capability of the dog is the ability to traverse different types of terrain that wheeled vehicles may not be able to go,” Bhavanjot Singh, senior scientific, technical manager for autonomy and automation for armaments systems at Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), told Janes on July 26. The Army is also developing other robotics platforms, including the Project Origin robotic combat vehicle, which is larger and can be used in various formations.

The XM7 rifle and its counterpart, the XM250 automatic rifle, were chosen to replace the M4 carbine and M249 Squad Automatic Weapon in Army arsenals under the Next Generation SquadWeapon (NGSW) program in 2022. They use 6.8mm ammo and will be adopted by the Army within the next decade. Although U.S. special operations forces already prefer them, some soldiers have expressed worries that the XM7's size and weight may hinder its performance as a standard infantry rifle.

In 2021, Ghost Robotics showcased the Vision 60 at an Army trade show in Washington, DC. The four-legged robo-dog was designed with the capability to attach a rifle with a 10-round capacity and strike targets up to three-quarters of a mile away. Although the demonstration system was not autonomous, it required a human operator to control the machine and fire the rifle remotely. The Vision 60 is not yet capable of firing independently, but it is a promising development in robotics.

When questioned regarding Singh's statements, DEVCOM representative Tim Ryder informed that Army Futures Command is still researching implementing human-machine integration. However, he also emphasized that creating a prototype does not necessarily imply that the robot dogs will be utilized in combat situations.

"While advanced technology demonstrations -- in this case, related to the Next Generation Squad Weapon and unmanned ground vehicles -- allow us to explore the realm of the possible when it comes to transformative capabilities for future combat formations, they don't necessarily represent or result in formal service-wide research programs or investments," Ryder explained.

Soldier's best friend

"These legged platforms have some promises which we've identified, primarily from a mobility standpoint," Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center dismounted robotics system branch chief Milot Resyli said. "There are [however] limitations to them as well from an endurance [perspective], as well as the payload capability and power of how much they can support," he added.

Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
Add Interesting Engineering to your Google News feed.
message circleSHOW COMMENT (1)chevron
Job Board