Boston Robotic’s Spot quadruped robot seems to be hitting the battlefield with a group of French Army trainees in a series of drills and simulations that explore how these currently unarmed robots could work side-by-side with humans.
The soldiers-in-training used Spot for various reconnaissance tasks during a two-day trial of the technology.
As reported by news outlet Ouest-France, Spot and some robot friends are supplying intelligence and support for ground troops. The other robots included the French-made pack robot called the Nexter ULTRO and Shark Robotics Barakuda, a wheeled drone that carries a heavy blast shield to protect the students.
The tests, which took place in late March, were part of a project by the École Militaire Interarmes school at a French army camp Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan.
“Four students carried this applied research exercise project to three scenarios: an offensive action with the capture of a crossroads, a defensive action by day and then at night, and urban combat,” said Coëtquidan engineer Gérard du Boisboissel. Spot apparently ran out of battery during one of the exercises and had to be carried home.
21. Je déploie le robot pour reconnaitre OSCAR3.
Retour en images sur l’exercice de recherche appliquée organisé les 30 et 31 mars par l’EMIA et le centre de recherche. Robotisation du champ de bataille : sensibiliser les élèves aux enjeux de demain. #CapaciTERRE #Robots pic.twitter.com/HiZ2BFOZPY
— Académie militaire de Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (@SaintCyrCoet) April 6, 2021
This is neither the first nor likely the last time soldiers use robots in battlefield training. Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013 and although there hasn’t been much information on the robots’ military usage, the company allegedly took military funding over the years. Further, robotic quadrupeds from China-based Unitree Robotics appear to be readying for battle, according to a recent report. The test in France, however, seems to be the first time Spot has been seen in a true military setting. Luckily, the French haven’t armed this little fellow yet although it’s not like people haven’t tried.