Sound Off: Are Robot Dogs a Sign of Our Robot Soldier Future?



This is getting serious: the Marine Corps is now testing a mechanical replacement for military working dogs. According to an article at Ars Technica, the Marine Corps Combat Development Command at Quantico is working with DARPA to investigate wartime applications for Spot, a 160-pound, hydraulicly actuated quadruped robot developed by Google’s Boston Dynamics division.


The Marines love the mechanical dog. Captain James Pineiro, head of the Marine Corps Warfighting Lab’s Quantico branch said, “Spot is great and has exceeded the metrics that we’ve provided. The Marines have been very receptive to the new technology, embrace it and came up with new ideas we couldn’t even dream up. We see it as a great potential for the future dismounted infantry. We want to continue to experiment with quadruped technology and find ways that this can be employed to enhance the Marine Corps warfighting capabilties.”

Spot can be operated at a distance of up to 500 meters by a Marine with a game controller tethered to a laptop, so there are a lot of surveillance opportunities.

No word, however, on what this piece of gear will cost the Pentagon and U.S. taxpayers and it’s hard to imagine robotic dogs providing the kind of kinship and emotional support that makes military working dogs so beloved. If dog robots prove a success, then we’re one step closer to armies of Terminator-style combat robots that will allow the brass to put boots on the ground without having to justify the casualties to the folks back home.

There’s a lot to discuss here. Does replacing military working dogs with robots make sense? Do working dogs have a role beyond their military applications? Are you looking forward to possibly living in a world defended by drone soldiers operated with game controllers? Sound off!

  • conradswims

    We already have real dogs. They can out hear and smell that over priced piece of junk. They can sneak up and rip the throat out of the enemy before it knows they are dead. They can be trained as an early warning or stealth killers. The sniff bombs and mines and people who need a bath. This is just one more rip-off on the american taxpayer. Junk it!

    • Guest

      So you’re completely ok with sacrificing the lives of living creatures when a viable mechanical option could be available? Totally ok with the extreme emotional impact on a handler when their dog doesn’t come back from patrol? “It works, so don’t mess with it” kind of thinking?

      You have a fundamental lack of understanding of how dogs- and military dogs in particular- behave if you think you can train a dog to be a discriminating ‘silent killer.’ That’s 100% not how they work.

      • The Grande Illusion

        You have to get out of the box and then the room the box is sitting in and start thinking on a different level. Logic does apply, but opposite of how your thinking.

    • Dave

      Exactly, so why try to further technology? We have soldiers as well so why try to create drones and such that can diminish the risk to actual people? Stupid scientists.

  • MajJordanUSMC-Ret

    This is just an evolution of the tracked surveillance vehicles used to probe suspicious sites or packages rather than risk a human. Time and testing will tell how effective and efficient they may perform under combat conditions.

    Questions to be resolved would be the “dog’s” vulnerability to hostile fire and hostile environments, whether they should be armed to return fire if fired upon, cost effectiveness vs a live dog, and the ability to “sense” certain chemicals or individuals who pose a threat.

  • very futuristic, but robot dog cannot replace the real dog, the instinct of nature is something that can’t made