The US Army is considering equipping its Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Q-UGVs) with the Next-Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW).
The move explores the “realm of the possible” for applications in close combat operations, an army spokesperson told Military.com.
Mounting Sig Sauer’s XM5 NGSW rifle onto robot dogs is expected to increase their lethality and ability to respond to frontline threats.
This is not the first time the army experimented with weaponizing its Q-UGVs, as it had already mounted an M4A1 carbine onto the Ghost Robotics technology.
“The unique capability of the dog is the ability to traverse different types of terrain that wheeled vehicles may not be able to go,” US Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) official Bhavanjot Singh said.
Despite the move, DEVCOM spokesman Tim Ryder clarified that conducting the experiment does not necessarily mean that the weaponized robot dogs will be deployed for combat missions.
Killer Robots Controversy
The prospect of integrating lethal weapons into autonomous systems has received stiff criticism, particularly from human rights advocates.
Multiple robotics companies have called on global militaries to abstain from weaponizing their technology to avoid risking the safety of civilians.
“We believe that adding weapons to robots that are remotely or autonomously operated, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work, raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues,” the signatories noted.
Human Rights Watch also urged governments to set standards for necessary human control over lethal autonomous weapons.
In response to global concerns, the US Army laid out new rules on how to deal with the so-called killer robots, including minimizing the “probability and consequences of failures.”