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The US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is testing armed robot dogs from Ghost Robotics.

The US Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is testing armed robot dogs from Ghost Robotics, according to The Warzone. The dogs are equipped with weapon systems from Onyx Industries that are supposedly able to identify targets independently before a human operator grants fire permission. An early version of the Ghost Robotics system was already introduced in 2021.

Eric Shell from Onyx Industries told The Warzone that MARSOC has two robot dogs with rifles of different calibers. Unarmed robot dogs are already being used by the US Air Force for reconnaissance purposes. MARSOC explained to The Warzone that the robot dogs are currently only being evaluated and weapons are just one of many possible payloads. MARSOC says it adheres to the Pentagon's guidelines on autonomous weapons.

Drones are changing warfare rapidly

The number of remote-controlled drones in conflict zones worldwide has increased significantly. Many already have semi-autonomous capabilities. In the Ukraine war, AI-supported drone reconnaissance and communication between drones, artillery, and infantry play a central role. Ukraine is also training neural networks to automatically recognize Russian soldiers and vehicles.

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In addition to smaller drones, the US and other countries are also working on larger projects: Recently, in cooperation with the research agency DARPA, the US Air Force had an AI-controlled fighter jet compete against manned F-16s in simulated aerial combat for the first time. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) had also announced the successful test flight of an XQ-58A Valkyrie drone controlled by artificial intelligence back in the summer of 2023. Similar projects also exist for land vehicles, ships, and underwater vehicles.

The final decision on a kill order is supposed to remain with humans.

Fully autonomous drones that identify and attack targets are nevertheless a realistic possibility - there have recently been initial successful tests in Ukraine of drones that autonomously attack a target when contact with the operator is interrupted by jamming.

In a video from Ukraine, a drone was shown hitting a Russian tank despite active suppression by electronic warfare. According to the post on X.com, the drone was steered close to the tank by a human before the connection was interrupted by the electronic defenses. Then the drone took over.

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Summary
  • The U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC) is testing armed robotic dogs from Ghost Robotics that can independently detect targets before a human operator gives permission to fire.
  • MARSOC has two robotic dogs with rifles of different calibers, but stresses that the robots are still being evaluated and that the weapons are only a potential payload.
  • The number of remotely piloted and semi-autonomous drones in conflict zones has increased significantly. AI-assisted drone reconnaissance and communication between drones, artillery, and infantry play a central role in the war in Ukraine. Larger projects such as AI-controlled "wingman" drones are also being pursued by the U.S. and other countries.
Sources
Max is managing editor at THE DECODER. As a trained philosopher, he deals with consciousness, AI, and the question of whether machines can really think or just pretend to.
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