The four-legged robot, built by the American company Boston Dynamics, called Spot, appeared alongside a group of French Army trainees in a series of exercises and simulations that explore how these currently unarmed robots can work alongside humans.
Google acquired Boston Dynamics in 2013, and although there isn’t much information about the military use of robots, the company has received military funding over the years.
DARPA funded some of the early Boston Dynamics’ robots, including Atlas, but the company slowly moved away from its military ties.
The company’s current terms and conditions prohibit the use of robots as a weapon to harm or frighten any person or animal.
However, the company is not necessarily against using robots to keep soldiers out of harm’s way, it said, and is still evaluating the idea of using robots for reconnaissance and other tasks.
Trained soldiers used Spot to carry out various reconnaissance missions during a two-day trial of the technology, and the test in France appears to be the first time Spot has been seen in a real military environment.
According to it newspaper Ouest France, Spot and some other robots provide intelligence and support to ground forces, and have been used to measure the added value of robots in combat.
Other robots included the French-made Nexter ULTRO robot and Shark Robotics Barakuda, a drone that carries heavy armor to protect advanced soldiers.
The robots reportedly slowed down the process but kept the troops safer, as one soldier said he died in the first exercise without Spot, but survived the second time thanks to the robot’s reconnaissance.
The tests, conducted in late March, were part of the École Militaire Interarmes project at the French army camp Saint Cyr Coëtquidan.
And he said Gérard de Boispoixel, Research Engineer at French Army Camp Saint Sir Cotquedan: Four students carried out this applied research exercise project in three scenarios: offensive action with capture of a crossroads, defensive action day and night, and urban battles, and the Spot battery appears to be depleted during an exercise.
Boston Dynamics, the maker of the robot: It knows that the French government and military use its robots, but has not been alerted about this specific exercise.
It is reported that this is neither the first nor the last time that soldiers have used robots in training on the battlefield.