Russian robot dog armed with rockets appears to be modified Chinese pet bot

·2 min read
 An M-81 robot dog, armed with an RPG-26 was unveiled at Russia’s annual Army-2022 international arms expo Monday, 15 August, 2022 (Screenshot/ RIA Novosti)
An M-81 robot dog, armed with an RPG-26 was unveiled at Russia’s annual Army-2022 international arms expo Monday, 15 August, 2022 (Screenshot/ RIA Novosti)

A robot dog equipped with a grenade launcher that appears to be a modified Chinese robotic pet has been unveiled at a Russian arms expo.

Russian-state owned news agency RIA Novosti shared a video of the RPG-bearing robot dog, filmed at Russia’s annual Army-2022 international arms expo on Monday.

The news agency reported that the machine, dubbed the M-81, is capable of shooting and transporting weapons, as well as delivering medicine and supplies to front-line soldiers.

Despite being covered in black cloth, the positioning of the robot’s sensors and its overall frame resembled that of a G01 consumer-grade robot sold by Chinese manufacturer Unitree Robotics.

It is available for sale through online marketplaces like AliExpress for around £350, advertised as a “light and compact” companion robot.

“The human-machine interaction is both harmonious and safe,” Unitree’s website states.

“Robot walks alongside its human master, which is much better than the conventional following mode.”

Unlike some other advanced robot manufacturers, Unitree does not appear to include any safeguards against weaponising its robots, though its terms and conditions warn that any damages caused by “unauthorised modification” will not be covered by its sales warranty.

It is not the first robot dog to be equipped with a weapon, with a widely-shared video last month showing what appears to be another Unitree device firing a machine gun strapped to its back.

Leading US manufacturer Boston Dynamics has a strict policy preventing its quadrupedal Spot robot from being modified

Boston Dynamics’ terms of service state: “All buyers must agree to our Terms and Conditions of Sale, which state that our products must be used in compliance with the law, and cannot be used to harm or intimidate people or animals, or be used as a weapon or configured to hold a weapon.

“Any violation of our Terms will automatically void the product’s warranty and prevent the robot from being updated, serviced, repaired or replaced.”