Boston Dynamics: Spot, a four-legged robot from the North America Boston Dynamics, is used in the training of the French army. Currently, the “robot dog” helps soldiers perform reconnaissance during activities.
The École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, France’s main military school, posted photos of the actions on Twitter. The institution describes the tests as a way to make students aware of the challenges of tomorrow and robotization on the battlefield.
– Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (@SaintCyrCoet) March 31, 2021
According to Ouest-France, soldiers from the military school took part in two days of training in different scenarios. The exercises include offensive and defensive actions and an urban combat test.
Each scenario was only practiced with humans and then with students and robots. In this way, they analyzed the differences between having machines operating on the battlefield.
Despite delays, Spot helped keep the troops safer. One soldier said he died in a human-only test, something that can be avoided if the robot was used to conduct reconnaissance.
One of the problems with the robot dog, however, was battery life. During one of the exercises, he ran out of energy and had to be taken off the field to be recharged.
Robots on the battlefield
Spot’s presence on simulated battlefields raises questions about where it will be deployed in the future. Boston Dynamics began its history making models for the US military, but distanced itself from the military by focusing on the commercial market.
Today, the company is very concerned about using robots to harm humans. So much so that Spot’s terms prohibit its use to hurt or intimidate any person or animal, or as a weapon or to enable weapons.
It could be argued that the French army uses the robot to patrol buildings and that it would not harm anyone. But recognition is the prelude to a military confrontation, which makes the distinction vulnerable.