Robotic dogs now have their own sniper rifle, hinting at the future of autonomous and remote-controlled warfare. The weapon comes from SWORD Defense Systems, which says its Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR) can be used with various remote-controlled “unmanned platforms.” The company recently showcased the rifle mounted on the Ghost Robotics Vision-60 quadruped.
SWORD Defense Systems says its SPUR sniper rifle features a variety of sensors that allows it to operate in many different conditions, including at night. SPUR sports a 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge, though the rifle can also be used with the 7.62×51 NATO cartridge to accommodate ammunition availability.
SPUR has a 1200 meter effective range, utilizes a 10-round magazine, and has a Cerakote GEN II NIR Ceramic Coating that helps camouflage the rifle from night vision systems. Given the remote-operated nature of this device, the sniper rifle also sports a Teledyne Flir Boson 640 x 512 24.4mm 18-degree HFoV thermal camera core and 30x optical zoom.
The remote operator is able to load the rifle from a safe distance, as well as features that allow the operator to clear malfunctions and unload the weapon. Such weapons enable humans to remain at a safe distance away from combat, instead sending machines into hazardous environments.
The company doesn’t mention anything about autonomous functionality, meaning a human must operate the weapon remotely. The potential future use of AI-powered weapons remains hotly controversial, with ethicists and other expressing concerns about the potential for lethal malfunctions or an inability to properly tell combatants from civilians.