Watch Russian robotic dog allegedly capable of launching rockets

Its origins are questionable though.
Ameya Paleja
iStock/mikkelwilliam
Robot dog with rocket launcher

iStock/mikkelwilliam 

  • Russia's latest killer tech was unveiled at an arms conference this week.
  • It did not receive a mention from President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the conference.
  • The biggest question is, why was the dog covered in black overalls?

A robotic dog wielding a rocket launcher was showcased at an ongoing arms conference being held in Russia, Newsweek has reported. A video of the dog being displayed has gone viral on Twitter.

We have been covering robotic dogs for a while, and the headless trotting mimics of man's best friend are very intriguing. They can walk upstairs, climb uneven terrain, and be deployed to carry out routine tasks till their batteries die. However, the application of the technology in military circles has raised quite a few eyebrows.

Fears of robotic-killer machines have surfaced since Ghost Robotics unveiled a machine-gun-wielding robotic dog last year. Now, the Russian forces also seem keen to deploy such robots, and since most defense manufacturers won't work with them amidst all the sanctions, Russia seems to have designed its own.

Russia's rocket launching dog

There isn't much information available about the dog's capabilities other than the video and a few comments that were published in the Russian media. According to Newsweek's report, the robotic dog has been developed keeping in mind civilian and military operations. Typical descriptions made about this technology also include that the robotic dog can be used for security and patrol services, as it appears from this post on Telegram.

According to The Drive, the weapon on the dog that has been designated M-81 appears to be an RPG-26 anti-tank rocket launcher. We do not know for sure if the optical aiming device that the dog is also equipped with helps in automating the firing process.

Since the M-81 was displayed on stage, its demonstration did not include anything beyond the forward and backward trot and the laying low, which is pretty much rudimentary for a robotic dog these days. What one would be interested in is how it is operated and what level of autonomy it has, of which we find no mention.

Interestingly, the technology did not even receive a mention by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the arms conference and spoke about "future weapons" and "robotics," Newsweek said in its report.

True origins of the robotic dog

What is indeed striking about the M-81 is the way its frame is covered in black overalls. It does seem a bit odd for a military camouflage and more so for some technology that is developed indigenously. Last week, we reported how the U.S. Space Force was considering the robotic dogs for special missions, and in all releases, the dogs were in the limelight, with no coveralls whatsoever. This raises an important question as to what the Russians are hiding.

According to The Drive, the form and proportions of the M-81 resemble the robotic dog that can be bought online from the Chinese tech company Unitree Robotics. If that were true, then the Russian display is nothing more than a glorified attempt at making a killer dog from bought off-the-shelf components like we covered last month.

In the face of shortcomings of Russian technology in the Ukrainian aggression, there are a lot of questions that are currently unanswered about Russian military prowess. Is a rocket-launching robotic dog being added to the list?