Boston Dynamics' four-legged robot dog "Spot" is testing the waters for a new application - undergoing evaluations at a French military school for potential use in combat scenarios.

The Special Military School of Saint-Cyr, the European nation's foremost military academy, shared photos of Spot the robot dog with soldiers as a part of their ongoing military exercises. In an April 6 post on Twitter, Saint-Cyr discloses in French that the robot is a part of its "applied research exercise" last March 30 and 31, by its research center and the EMIA, or the École militaire interarmes, the French joint military school.

Spot the Robot Dog Together With French Military Students
(Photo: Saint-Cyr Coëtquidan Twitter Page)

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Preparing for "The Challenges of Tomorrow"

Through the activity, Saint-Cyr expresses optimism that the "robotization of the battlefield" would help raise its students' awareness of "the challenges of tomorrow." Boston Dynamics' robot dog Spot is only one of the robots currently tested by French military schools.

In a statement to the local news portal Ouest France, Clément Levilly from the European distributor Shark Robotics noted that Spot has "sold well," emphasizing the potential for civil and police applications. He cited the New York Police Department's deployment of Spot as a member of its response team. Tagged "Digidog," the customized Boston Dynamics four-legged robot dog has been sighted with the NYPD team at a February 23 response to a crime scene in the Bronx.

Aside from Spot, the French military exercise also featured other robots, such as the silent tactical robot ULTRO. Looking like a mini-tank, the modular and multipurpose "mule" can carry payloads of up to 600 kilograms and be fitted with a weapon. ULTRO is developed by the state weapons manufacturer Nexter Systems.

Nexter also deployed its small reconnaissance robot NERVA and its weaponized ground drone OPTIO 20, the latter being designed by the Estonian robotics firm Milrem and is fitted with a 20mm cannon. 

Boston Dynamics' Spot: From Prototype to Doctor to Soldier

The four-legged robot dog has been developed over the years by Boston Dynamics, a robotics company based in Massachusetts. The ready-to-operate and flexible quadruped starts at $74,500.00 according to its product website and can be fitted with additional customizations for $20,000.

As an "agile, mobile robot," Spot can navigate various terrain conditions - indoor and outdoor - with unprecedented mobility, thanks to its onboard machine vision and sensors that provide information about its surroundings. 

Users control the Boston Dynamics quadruped robot using an "intuitive tablet application" from a distance, making it an ideal companion for surveying otherwise hazardous environments without the need for humans to go into these inhospitable conditions - opening applications for the robot in applications related to nuclear plants, offshore oil fields, and construction sites.

Since it made its commercial debut in June 2020, it has been used for various applications - with one of the first customers being Elon Musk's aerospace firm SpaceX. Furthermore, Boston Dynamics has teamed up with MIT and Brigham and Women's Hospital to create Dr. Spot - a modified version of the four-legged robot dog that can perform medical processes without the need for in-person contact, boosting the fight against COVID-19 in hospitals.


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