Watch Boston Dynamics Spot Robot Dog As Man's Best Friend In French Army Combat Training
The last time we saw Spot, an adorable robotic canine (of sorts) developed by Boston Dynamics, it was doing Fortnite victory dances alongside a couple of Atlas robots. Perhaps adding to its list of tricks, Spot has now spent some time with the French army as part of a two-day exercise, in which several robots are being tested to see how they can help, and to discover any potential vulnerabilities.
Boston Dynamics built Spot several years ago. In the early going, it was shown opening doors and withstanding "disturbances" by humans, like having its tail pulled and being whacked with a hockey stick. There is a certain uneasy feeling in some of the Boston Dynamics demonstrations, which is a credit to how lifelike and agile they have designed these things.
Like the goodest of boys, Spot makes no reservations about assisting the French army, despite what potential dangers might lurk around the corner. For some, potentially including Boston Dynamics, this brings up a different kind of uneasiness, as it calls into question how the company's creations will be used in the real world.
One of the company's partners, Shark Robotics, supplied the French army with a Spot robot. Boston Dynamics was unaware of this development.
"We're learning about it as you are," Micheal Perry, vice president of business development at Boston Dynamics, told The Verge. "We're not clear on the exact scope of the engagement."
Technology has always played an important role in military applications, and can help keep troops safe in life or death situations. At the same time, those who develop certain products may not have envisioned their creations being used in such a manner.
Case in point, Microsoft recently inked a $22 billion deal to supply modified HoloLens AR headsets to US army troops. This prompted some of Microsoft's employees to write an open letter, titled "HoloLens for Good, Not War," imploring Microsoft to cancel its contract.
"While the company has previously licensed tech to the US Military, it has never crossed the line into weapons development. With this contract, it does," the letter states. "The application of HoloLens withing the IVAS system is designed to help people kill. It will be deployed on the battlefield, and works by turning warfare into a simulated 'video game', further distancing soldiers from the grim stakes of war and the reality of bloodshed."
As for Spot, it's not clear what further plans the French army has for the robot. However, in relation to the use of robots in general, in a solider told Ouest France that missions take longer, but can save lives.
"During the phase of urban combat without a robot, I was killed. But not the time when the robot carried out the reconnaissance," the soldier said (via Google Translate).