Boston Dynamics is upping its game in the robotics industry by announcing that it will deploy a robot to Ukraine to help mine clearing operations. The company has been busy developing new military and special operations robots. This latest announcement shows that they are continuing to lead the pack in terms of innovation.

Boston Dynamics, a leading robotics company, will send one of its robots, the Spot. This robot weighs 160 pounds and is equipped with sensors and an arm to manipulate objects. It also has a device that can detect and safely detonate mines.

One of the most dangerous tasks that soldiers have to do is clear landmines. This involves going into an area where there could be hidden explosives and carefully removing them. It is a slow and painstaking process that often puts soldiers in danger.

Meanwhile, one of Spot’s most promising features is its ability to detonate mines safely. It has other sensors, including an RGB camera, thermal camera, laser rangefinder, and GPS. In addition, its arm can be used to manipulate objects, allowing it to detonate mines accurately. This will allow soldiers to avoid danger while the robot does the dangerous work.

SPOT
YanDavos CZT based radiation detector mounted to SPOT quadrupedal robot from Boston Dynamics, deployed in the Chornobyl Nuclear Exclusion Zone. (Source: ArticCynda/Wikimedia)

As for how it will be used to clear mines, the Spot will be equipped with a special device that can detect Ukrainian and Russian bombs below ground and safely bring them up to the surface. These tasks are run in a remote operation setup. Therefore, no soldiers are expected to be harmed in any of the detonation activities done by Spot.

However, this will be a long and arduous mission for Spot since these robots are expected to clear some 300,000 square feet of Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian Deputy Interior Minister Meri Akopian said they are projecting a 5-10 year timeline for the landmines to be completely cleared out. It’s even more challenging since an estimated 2.8 million Ukrainians are expected to return to these regions (or at least cross these locations) during this period. Therefore, the risk of someone stepping on a landmine in the rubble of their homes is still very high.

“Anti-personnel and anti-vehicle mines, as well as other unexploded or abandoned ammunition left behind in Ukraine, threaten the lives of millions of people,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs stated. “They will take years to remove, hindering reconstruction efforts and making it unsafe for people to return to their previous daily lives.”

Spot’s Training

The Spot robot has been tested in a variety of conditions to ensure that it can safely detonate mines. The tests have been conducted at the Boston Dynamics facilities and in Ukraine.

The results of the tests have been auspicious, and analysts are keeping a close eye on the Spot’s successful mission in Ukraine. This will be a significant step forward for using robots in military operations if proven effective.

SpotMini
SpotMini, Boston Dynamics, Robot, prior to going on Centre Stage during the final day of Web Summit 2019 at the Altice Arena in Lisbon, Portugal. (Source: Web Summit/Wikimedia)

This is not the first time that Boston Dynamics has worked with the military, but it is undoubtedly one of the most high-profile deployments for its robots. The company has previously said that it wants its robots to be used in various settings, including search and rescue, disaster relief, and even warfare.

Robots in the Military

Robots are increasingly being used in the military as they can carry out tasks that would otherwise be too dangerous for humans. One such task is mine clearing, which is often carried out by special operations forces.

The use of robots in the military has several advantages. For example, they can carry out tasks that would be too dangerous for humans, work for long hours without getting tired, and be equipped with sensors and other devices that human soldiers cannot easily carry.

However, there are also some disadvantages to using robots in the military. They are expensive, so there is always the risk of being destroyed or damaged in combat. They also require a lot of training and maintenance.

Other disadvantages of using robots in special operations in the military include:

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  • They can be hacked and used against us
  • They can malfunction and cause innocent casualties
  • They may not be able to deal with the complexities of war
  • They may not be able to distinguish between targets and civilians
  • There is a risk of friendly fire if they are not properly calibrated
  • They may not be able to differentiate between enemy combatants and civilians

One day, robots may even replace human soldiers altogether. This may sound like science fiction, but it is becoming increasingly clear that robots will play an important role in the future of warfare.

Even with these disadvantages, the use of robots in the military is likely to increase in the future as they become more advanced and less expensive. This deployment of the Spot robot is just one example of how they are being used in special operations. We will likely see even more robots being deployed to do mine clearing and other dangerous tasks in the future.

Boston Dynamics has said that the Spot is just the beginning of its work in this area and that it is already working on even more advanced robots that could one day replace human soldiers altogether. That may sound like science fiction, but it is becoming increasingly clear that robots will play an important role in the future of warfare.

What do you think about the use of robots in special operations in the military? Do you think they are a good idea or a bad idea? Let us know in the comments below.

Tars out!