- The French army used Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot in a training exercise this week.
- The exercise was to assess how useful robots like Spot would be in real-life combat situations.
- Spot ran out of battery in the middle of simulated combat.
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The French military are testing Boston Dynamics’ famous robot dog Spot in combat scenarios.
French newspaper Ouest-France reported Wednesday that students at France’s Saint-Cyr military school tested five robots on Tuesday and Wednesday to assess their suitability for combat. Boston Dynamics’ Spot was among the robots.
Students tested the robots in three scenarios – an offensive maneuver at a crossroads, a defensive one during both the day and the night, and finally an urban-combat scenario. The students ran each exercise twice, once without the robots, and once with them.
-Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan (@SaintCyrCoet) April 6, 2021
One of the students who participated in the exercises said the robots offered some benefits in reconnaissance. “I was killed during the urban combat exercise without robots, but not the time when the robot had done reconnaissance,” he said.
But Spot was not without its drawbacks, the same student added. “Spot ran out of battery in the middle of combat,” he said.
Spot was provided to the French military via a French company called Shark Robotics. Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development Michael Perry told the Verge the company was unaware of Spot’s sale to the French military.
“We’re learning about it as you are […] We’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement,” Perry told the Verge.
Perry also said the company had strict rules forbidding customers from weaponizing Spot, but that this wouldn’t stop the military using it. “We think that the military, to the extent that they do use robotics to take people out of harm’s way, we think that’s a perfectly valid use of the technology,” he said.
The New York Police Department also has a Spot robot, which it first deployed in October last year.