Russia’s Rocket-Toting Robot Dog Is Chinese, For Sale On Alibaba
Russia’s oddly cloth-wrapped rocket-armed robot dog appears to be a consumer-grade type that you can buy from Chinese marketplace websites.
A ‘robot dog’ armed with an anti-tank rocket launcher installed on its back was shown off today at Russia’s “Army 2022” arms expo. While this was intended to show off Russia's state of technology among its peers, the strangely shrouded robotic dog appears to be a Chinese type that is available for purchase for a few grand on Alibaba's Aliexpress.com – a similar example of which emerged recently online armed with a submachine gun.
Organized by the Russian Ministry of Defense and opened with an address by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the expo runs from August 15 to 22 at the Patriot Park in Kubinka, just outside of Moscow. It’s worth bearing in mind that Russia and Russian companies have a history of unveiling unsubstantiated weapons at the annual exhibition, including giant mecha-like robots, which readers can learn more about here.
A full demonstration of the 'robot dog,' also referred to by the designation M-81, can be seen below.
Originally posted to the Telegram social media platform, footage of the dog captured on August 15 has begun to circulate on Twitter. In the demonstration, we see the ‘robot dog’ walking backward and forward, as well as 'sitting,' before moving toward exhibition attendees.
While the dog is able to support the weight of an RPG-26 anti-tank rocket launcher and what looks at first glance to be an optical aiming device, but that may just be small arms scope of some kind. It's less clear whether the dog can handle the shock of firing the weapon or if it is even capable of aiming it remotely. As can be seen in the video below, the RPG-26 has a relatively mild recoil for a weapon of this type.
The dog’s frame is concealed by a black fabric coverall. While this may seem like an odd attempt at a tactical appearance, it is much more likely that is necessary to conceal the origin of the robot. Based on the location and shape of the robot dog's 'eyes,' its silver color, and its overall form and proportions, it seems clear the robot being displayed is actually one for sale on Chinese marketplace websites.
Indeed, the dog itself bears a striking resemblance to Unitree Robotic’s UnitreeYushuTechnologyDog, which can be purchased online for as little as $2,700. As such, it seems pretty clear that the robot was not designed by the Russian manufacturer displaying it at the "Army 2022" exhibition, nor is it of a military grade of any kind.
According to the 'developers' of the 'robot dog,' who spoke with Russian state news outlet RIA Novosti at the exhibition but remain unknown, the dog is “capable of target shooting and transporting weapons,” performing “reconnaissance,” and “walking-through debris and delivering medicines.” Moreover, the developers claimed the dog was designed “using bionics – principles, structures, and mechanics typical of the animal kingdom – so they resemble dogs, especially in dynamics.”
“In combat use, the robot can also engage in target designation, patrolling, and guarding,” the developers added.
This all follows the emergence of what appears to be another armed Unitree ‘robot dog,’ created by the Russian-born inventor Alexander Atamanov, which readers can learn more about here. Unlike the new rocket launcher-wielding example, Atamanov's dog appears to support either a Russian 9x19mm PP-19-01 "Vityaz" submachine gun or a Saiga 9, a semi-automatic civilian variant of the PP-19-01, that is nevertheless fitted with a suppressor, red dot optic, camera, and antenna. While there is no indication one way or another that Atamanov worked on the M-81, the timing of its unveiling is certainly curious.
While armed and unarmed ‘robot dogs’ could prove useful in a wide range of military scenarios, the utility of the 'robot dog' configuration unveiled at "Army 2022" remains highly suspect, if it is in fact a serious concept at all. Given the nature of some of the weapons unveiled at Russian military-technology exhibitions in the past, a degree of skepticism needs to be applied to whether the new Russian 'robot dog' is representative of a functional concept for future military use.
Regardless, the platform itself doesn't appear to be of Russian origin, which its ninja costume was nearly successful at concealing. Considering the sanctions placed on Russia and its dependence on foreign microchips and other electronic components, it would likely be challenging for the country to produce something like it that is military-grade in the foreseeable future.
In the meantime, there is always Alibaba!
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