To prevent soldiers from being exposed to an armored vehicle, the American Marines tested a “goat” robot equipped with an anti-tank rocket launcher. Problem: it’s a cheap Chinese robot.
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Robot dogs are used in many ways by the military. Thus, we could see some armed with an assault rifle, others controlled by thought to accompany soldiers. Even the French army trains with quadripedal robots like the Spot from Boston Dynamics. But the one that Marines American based in California have modified goes even further. The soldiers attached a rocket launcher to the back of this quadriped. This is a Chinese-made Unitree Go1. Cheap, it is sold on online stores, including via Amazon.
Renamed the “goat” robot for the occasion, it was tested during tactical training and was able to fire an anti-tank rocket. The rocket launcher was an M72 LAW, that is to say a light anti-tank weapon (3.8 kilos) which dates from the 1960s and has been modernized several times since. It complies with NATO standards and it is this type of weaponry that the United States and its allies delivered massively to Ukraine so that it could face Russian armored vehicles during the invasion in February 2022. It is a very simple weapon to use and it is clear that even a “goat” robot is capable of shooting with it.
The Unitree Go1 robot has been modified to carry and fire an M72 anti-tank rocket launcher. © Military Video
A cheap Chinese robot
Equipping such a robot with this rocket launcher also makes good sense because, when it comes to destroying a tank, the range of the M72 needs to be short, which increases the dangerousness of the action for its operator. He will in fact find himself close to the tank’s heavy weapons (machine guns, cannons). With the robot, the idea is to keep the operator at a distance and sheltered, and to bring the weapon as close as possible to its target to remotely control the shot. Likewise, given its low price for military equipment, soldiers will have no qualms about sacrificing this robot so that it can carry out its mission.
If the idea is attractive and the test is successful, the fact remains that the robot in question is Chinese and that this poses a security problem. In fact, it was necessary for the Marines get a waiver to use it, as robots and drones made in China are banned from use by the US Department of Defense. So there is no chance that this modified Unitree Go1 will ever become operational. On the other hand, based on this experiment, the military could very well opt for an American platform like the Ghost Robotics Q-UGV. Much more expensive, the latter has already been used during patrols and has even been modified to carry and fire a weapon.
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