This Submachine Gun-Equipped Robot Dog Goes Full John Wick At Shooting Range
This robot dog spraying rounds seems like a scene right out of a dystopian techno-thriller, but it’s likely a glimpse of what’s to come.
A video depicting a 'robot dog' zipping around and firing a fully-automatic submachine gun attached to its back has begun circulating on social media.
The video was originally posted to YouTube in March by Alexander Atamanov, an inventor and tech entrepreneur. In the video, we see Atamanov’s 'dog' prowling the edge of a firing range with standup targets. This “training ground,” as Atamanov describes it on Facebook, features some sort of exterior building with a BRDM-2A / BDRM-2M armored vehicle seen to the right side of the range.
Born in Russia, Atamanov began his career in the aerospace industry before launching a personal aviation technology business, HOVERSURF, in 2014. While Atamanov has resided in the United States – HOVERSURF is based in San Jose, California – we do not know exactly where the video, which readers can watch in full below, was filmed.
The 'dog' itself does not appear to have been designed by Atamanov. The example seen in the video, or models akin to it, can be purchased online for a few thousand dollars. UnitreeYusu’s “technology dog,” which looks extremely similar to the one seen in the video, currently costs around $3,000, for example. In a picture of the 'dog' released on Facebook by Atamanov, we see a patch attached to its side similar to those used by certain Russian special operations forces units, also referred to commonly by the Russian term "spetsnaz."
At first glance, the gun attached to the robot dog appears to be a Russian 9x19mm PP-19-01 "Vityaz" submachine gun fitted with a sound suppressor and a red dot style optic. It could also be a Saiga 9, a variant of the PP-19-01 that is not capable of fully-automatic fire and is marketed primarily to civilian shooters.
Another video uploaded to YouTube by Atamanov in 2019, which is titled "9x19 SMG 'Saiga 9'" and that readers can watch below, shows Atamanov firing what appears to be the same gun in the semi-auto fire mode only. At the same time, the video of the 'robot dog' shows the gun being fired at a much high rate, suggesting that it is full-auto capable or that the mechanism used to pull the trigger has been set up to do so very quickly.
As for the rest of the configuration of the 'robot dog,' it features a remote Go-Pro style camera, fixed behind the gun’s red dot optic, which allows for front-facing footage to be captured. An antenna is seen attached near the submachine gun's stock.
While the video may be a bit amusing and frightening, the technology seen here has real-world military applications. Robot dogs are not only useful from a patrol and surveillance perspective, as The War Zone has discussed in the case of them now being fielded by the U.S. military. Affixing gun systems to them does have bespoke, albeit dystopian-feeling advantages. Ghost Robotics and SWORD International previously displayed a Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle, or SPUR, with an affixed gun system at the Association of the U.S. Army's (AUSA) main annual convention in Washington, D.C., in 2021. You can read more about the work Ghost Robotics has done with quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicles, or Q-UGVs, in this past feature at The War Zone.
China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been experimenting with quadrupedal unmanned ground vehicle designs, including ones that could be armed with standard QBZ-95 infantry rifles or launchers for smoke grenades.
Providing 'robot dogs' with their own arms could allow them to engage targets in small confines, particularly those that may be impractical for humans to access. Everything from hostage situations to urban warfare combat environments could also benefit from the technology, and it wouldn't be the first time a robot has killed a human under similar circumstances. Even on the open battlefield, a steady, but nimble and very hard-to-spot and kill, robotic platform with a rifle attached could potentially be very effective. It could also work as a psychological warfare weapon, too.
Of course, this all sounds like something out of a horror/sci-fi movie or worse. But this is already well within mankind's technological capabilities, to the point that a basic remote-controlled killer dog can be put together by an individual for less than the price of a new Vespa scooter. The big question is the level of autonomy offered to such robotic assassins. Man-in-the-loop will be par for the course for the time being – but one day not too far off, we could see these systems work autonomously, even if just against each other.
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