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Robot Dogs: China Showcases Latest Weapon Technology

China has showed off a robot dog equipped with a gun during its largest-ever military exercise with Cambodia.

The public display of this new weapon system comes amid a heated race between China and the US to dominate robotics and other smart machinery, as unmanned technologies are believed to be decisive in future warfare.


China’s military unveiled its remote-controlled “robodogs” during the “Golden Dragon 2024” joint military drills with Cambodia earlier this month. The 15-day exercise, currently underway, involves over 2,000 troops, 14 warships, two helicopters, and 69 armored vehicles/tanks alongside the remote-controlled four-legged robot dogs with automatic rifles.

In a video published by state broadcaster CCTV, a Chinese soldier said: “It can serve as a new member in our urban combat operations, replacing our (human) members to conduct reconnaissance and identify (the) enemy and strike the target.”

In the video, the robot dog remote operator showed its capabilities, including walking, lying down, jumping and moving backwards. It also led an infantry unit into a simulated building in one drill. However, the video didn’t display the robodogs shooting capabilities.

The latter part of the two-minute video displayed an automatic rifle mounted under a six-rotor aerial drone, demonstrating what the video called China’s “variety of intelligent unmanned equipment.”

Nothing New

The robot dogs appeared to be developed by Unitree, a Chinese Company that advertises its products online for thousands of US dollars, reported Axios.

The military use of robodogs and other small aerial drones is not new, according to CNN. The robot dogs have been appearing on Chinese social media for at least a year.

A video published on CCTV last year showcased China’s rifle-armed robot dogs in a joint exercise involving the militaries of China, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, held in China last November.

The state-run Global Times said that the presence of robodogs at exercises with foreign militaries signals an advanced stage of development. The Chinese paper quoted an expert as saying: “Usually, a new equipment will not be brought into a joint exercise with another country, so the robot dogs must have reached a certain level of technical maturity.”

Increased Significance

Drones have gained increased significance since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022. They have been widely used in the battlefield, on the land, sea and air. These cheap remotely controlled unmanned vehicles have the ability to knock out sophisticated military machinery, such as tanks and warships.

The lethal capabilities displayed by drones in the Ukraine war have shown that they can be great equalizers. Drones can make militaries with small defense budgets compete with better armed and funded armies.

Heightened Competition

The intensive use of drones and unmanned vehicles in the Ukraine war has unleashed a race to develop and embrace smart unmanned technology that could be a game-changer in future wars. Robot dogs are the latest weapon system in unmanned vehicles arsenal.

China is one of the world’s leading exporters of drone technology. However, the Chinese Commerce Ministry has placed export controls on drone technology last year. It cited the need to “safeguard national security and interests.”

On the other hand, the US has been working on developing its drone capabilities. Last year, the US Marine Corps tested a rocket launcher on the back of what it called a “robotic goat.”

Robot Dogs: China Showcases Latest Weapon Technology
US robotic goat

The Marines tested the machine abilities to carry payloads and fire weapons in battle. 1st Lt. Aaron Safadi, officer in charge of the group’s emerging technology integration section, said: “Instead of having a Marine handle the weapon system, manipulate the safeties, we could put a remote trigger mechanism on it that allowed it to all be done remotely,” the Military Times reported at the time.

In 2020, the US Air Force used robot dogs as one link in its Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) in an exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. This system uses artificial intelligence and rapid data analytics to detect and counter threats to US military assets.

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