Robot dog built by Boston Dynamics being tested by French army in combat drills

A "dog" robot is joining French soldiers on military exercises.

The robot built by US firm Boston Dynamics has been nicknamed Spot and is one of several new machines being tested by students at France’s École Militaire Interarmes (Combined Arms School), Ouest-France reports.

Boston Dynamics’ vice president of business development Michael Perry told The Verge that they did not know what Spot was being used for.

He said: “We’re learning about it as you are. We’re not clear on the exact scope of this engagement.”

But Ouest-France revealed that different exercises were carried out with and without the robot to see how useful it was.

Sources explained the various machines slowed down operations but helped keep troops safe – until Spot ran out of battery power.

The French newspaper quoted a soldier saying: “During the urban combat phase where we weren’t using robots, I died. But I didn’t die when we had the robot do a recce first.”

It’s not clear what role Spot was playing but Ouest-France suggests it was being used for reconnaissance, The Verge states.

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Spot weighs around five stone and is kitted out with cameras and can be remote controlled to travel over ground that wheels would struggle with.

Construction sites, factories and underground mines have all trialled the robot which Boston Dynamics does not want to be used for harm, Michael Perry stresses.

Mr Perry said: “We unequivocally do not want any customer using the robot to harm people.

“We think that the military, to the extent that they do use robotics to take people out of harm’s way, we think that’s a perfectly valid use of the technology.”

The French military also tested out a remote-controlled vehicle with tank treads and auto cannon, a wheeled “robot mule” to carry equipment and a multipurpose wheeled drone that can provide mobile cover to soldiers, The Verge reports.

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