China’s Deployment Of ‘RoboDogs’ Alarms The US; Seeks Report On Threat Of Armed Robots In A Conflict

Beijing showcased its machine-gun-toting ‘robodog’ in the recently concluded China-Cambodia wargames, sparking concern in the US Congress that has sanctioned an assessment of how these canine-resembling robots will impact the battlefield. The assessment can be of interest to the Indian Army as well, considering China could deploy these robodogs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India.

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During a recently concluded debate over the annual defense authorization bill, House lawmakers incorporated language in the massive military policy measure to require a new assessment from the Defense Department on “the threat of rifle-toting robot dogs used by China” in potential future conflicts.

The amendment was adopted unanimously by the House. But it will have to survive negotiations with senators on the broader defense measure in the coming months before it can become law. The Senate is expected to hold a floor debate and make possible amendments to its draft of the legislation in the next few weeks.

In May, the enormous military drill between China and Cambodia saw around 2,000 troops. The “Golden Dragon” exercise included 14 warships, helicopters, and almost seventy armored vehicles and tanks. The 15-day exercise included live fire, anti-terrorism training, and humanitarian and rescue drills. However, the Robodogs were the stars of the show.

The armed “robodogs” came equipped with remote-controlled drone soldiers with back-mounted machine guns. There have been no reports of live-fire demonstrations by these robodogs, but the top Cambodian brass did get a taste of its mobility. It also showed that it is ready for frontline use.

A video released by state-run CCTV on May 25 showed a 110-pound quadruped robot carrying and firing an automatic rifle. China has shown off a pair of robot dogs – one toting a machine gun and the other powered by AI. The digital hounds resemble Boston Dynamics’s “Spot” robo-canine. The larger one weighs 50 kg (110 pounds) and is remotely operated by a Chinese soldier to fire weapons.

“It can serve as a new member in our urban combat operations, replacing our members to conduct reconnaissance and identify enemies and strike the target during our training,” explained Chen Wei, a Chinese soldier.

The other canine is a lightweight 15 kg (30 pounds) beast akin to an AI puppy. It can find its way around the battlefield and “transmit information about on-site obstacles such as wire fences, discarded tires, and tire spikes.” The dog can also jump and amble forward and backward. It can lie supine to duck. Lying down is another option—perhaps to duck under incoming ordnance or ask for a belly rub.

In what seems like the stuff of sci-fi nightmares, in 2022, a video that first originated on the verified Weibo page of China Kestrel Defense showed the digital hounds being dropped by drones.

The footage begins with a shot of the drone approaching the rooftop of a building in a nondescript urban area with the compact armed robot dog being carried under the drone’s frame. The drone lands on the roof and releases the robodog before flying away. After a few moments, the robodog unfurls from its folded position and begins navigating its new surroundings with what looks to be a Chinese QBB-97 light machine gun (designated as Type 95 LGM in the United States) mounted on its back.

According to Kestrel, the Red Wing drone can go behind enemy lines and execute a surprise attack by air-dropping the robot dog.

“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,” the caption to the video says according to an English-language translation.


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The PLA’s deployment of the robodogs via UAVs will help the PLA move them quickly to high-security areas without risking any lives. The digital hounds also present a tactical option for China to deploy them in urban areas.

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A remote-controlled drone or an AI-driven drone can take a pre-fed route to deploy the robodog behind enemy lines, on rooftops to take out otherwise difficult-to-access targets, carry out reconnaissance, or just create a diversion.

The robot dogs operated by AI can become new weapons of mass destruction.

Three weeks before China unveiled its digital hounds, the United States Marines special operators announced they were testing robotic dogs armed with automatic machine guns. Robotic quadrupeds have become common in the US military and carry out all the tasks, including bomb disposal and perimeter patrols, but arming them is a newer development.

Britain has its own initiative. It has been testing Boston Dynamics’s “Spot” quadruped and Ghost Robotics’s Vision 60, which will be deployed alongside ground troops.

Speaking about the V60, Dave Swan, the lead engineer of FCG Expeditionary Robotics Centre of Expertise, said the “quadruped offers increased situational awareness for soldiers on the ground” and has the “potential to act as the eyes and ears for soldiers on the front line.” Armed with a gun, it can be much more than an eye and an ear.

  • Ritu Sharma has been a journalist for over a decade, writing on defense, foreign affairs, and nuclear technology.
  • The author can be reached at ritu.sharma (at)
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