China Unveils Armed Robot Dogs

( )- Video footage was released this week showing an armed Chinese military robot dog being tested. The robot is believed to be armed with a machine gun and ammunition.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia-based Ghost Robotics is developing a similar armed robot for the US military.

However, not all US robotics companies are on board with the idea of developing robots equipped to carry weapons.

In a recent open letter to the robotics industry, six US companies, Boston Dynamics, Agility Robotics, ANYbotics, Clearpath Robotics, Open Robotics, and Unitree Robotics, have pledged not to support the weaponization of robots and urged other companies in the industry to follow their lead.

According to the companies, adding weapons to robots “raises new risks of harm and serious ethical issues,” in large part because these robots are “capable of navigating to previously inaccessible locations where people live and work.”

The companies vowed not to include weapons technology in the robots they design or build, nor will they support other companies that do so. They pledged “when possible” to review customer plans so they can avoid plans that could turn a robot into a weapon.

In an email to Axios, Boston Dynamics CEO Robert Playter said the recent increase in “makeshift efforts” to weaponize “commercially available robots” is concerning. He said for robotic technology to become “broadly accepted,” the public has to be able to trust it.

While military weaponization is their primary concern, it isn’t the only concern these companies have.

In their open letter, the companies warn that “untrustworthy people” could use these robots to “invade civil rights or to threaten, harm, or intimidate others.”

At the same time, they write that their issue isn’t with “existing technologies that nations and their government agencies use to defend themselves and uphold the laws.”