The Chinese military-industrial complex recently flexed its muscle on social media with footage featuring a drone transporting a machine gun-armed robot dog or robodog.
It’s not clear if the video was recorded as part of a Chinese military exercise or to demonstrate how the pairing of a drone and armed robodog will operate. Whatever its purpose is, the clip could serve as a foretelling of the technology that may populate future battlegrounds.
The one-minute video was originally posted on Weibo, a Chinese micro-blogging website, by a user either affiliated with or representing the local defense company that reportedly develops the drone being used to deploy the robodog.
The footage starts with a shot of the drone as it approaches the rooftop of a building in an urban area with the armed robodog being transported under the drone’s frame.
The drone, acting as a robotic shuttlecraft, landed above the roof, released the robodog, and flew away. The robodog then unfurled from its folded position and started exploring its location with what appeared to be a Chinese QBB-97 light machine gun attached to its back. (Related: Robot dogs are now being equipped with assault rifles for military use.)
The Weibo account, which was confirmed by the platform, has a username “Kestrel Defense Blood-Wing.” The account appears to be directly connected with the Chinese Kestrel Defense company, also known as China Kestrel Defense. It shared the video on the site accompanied with a description machine-translated from Chinese to English.
“War dogs descending from the sky, air assault, Red Wing Forward heavy-duty drones deliver combat robot dogs, which can be directly inserted into the weak link behind the enemy to launch a surprise attack or can be placed on the roof of the enemy to occupy the commanding heights to suppress firepower. And ground troops [can] conduct a three-dimensional pincer attack on the enemy in the building,” the description stated.
While the translation was obviously rough, it does imply that the drone-robodog pairing was conceptualized with the idea that it can be used during assault operations, especially in urban areas. Such surroundings are usually composed of tall buildings and complex structures that are difficult to infiltrate. The company appears to suggest that the capability of the drone-robodog tandem could be beneficial under those conditions.
The Weibo account also shared other videos of various robodogs in identical settings, which suggest that the company specializes in technologies designed with these surroundings in mind.
The “three-dimensional pincer attack” that the company claims the drone and robodog pairing could support is a tactic that could be used in an urban assault scenario, with forces simultaneously attacking from two directions and the robodog getting dropped on the roof to add another.
Technical specifications of the robodog and the drone in the video are not publicly accessible, making it hard to verify how accurate these systems work. Blood-Wing had previously posted videos promoting its robodog technology and footage released last month showed a similar machine carrying a munitions launcher.
Russia unveiled in a trade show last August a similar technology with its M-81 robodog armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
The state-owned media described the M-81 as a “robotic system, capable of conducting aimed shooting and transporting weapons,” and can also be “used in the emergency zone for reconnaissance, passage through rubble and delivery of medicines.”
Early this year, the Chinese government employed robodogs to release safety instructions in Shanghai during the city’s strict lockdown.
The robots were seen marching around city streets announcing public health messages by way of a megaphone taped to their heads. They delivered simple messages like, “Wear a mask, wash your hands, check your temperature.”
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