Legs folded under his body, a dog-shaped robot moving through a shallow jet, sensors facing forward, aimed forward over the surface of the water. Reaching the shore, the legs are unfolded and the robot moves forward, his gait is the already familiar strangeness of a robot imitating a dog. Announced on social media on June 13, this new amphibious adaptation is Vision 60 Quadruped Uncrewed Ground Vehicle, or Q-UGV, by Ghost Robotics. The underwater propulsion system manufactured by Onyx Industries is called the Nautical Autonomous Unmanned Tail (NAUT).

The Air Force is already using Vision 60 robots to patrol the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. There, the legs allow the robots to march through the mud and keep the perimeters under surveillance without complaint. The new naval equipment offers the opportunity for port patrols, as well as for escorting forces in the field further, where other machines cannot go.

Vision 60, like other animal-inspired robots, is partly the work of biomimicry – using a machine to imitate a living being. There are many reasons for this, not least that the four-legged body is quite useful for navigating difficult terrain with people. This was the boost between the DARPA-funded and Boston Dynamics-built Legged Squad Support System, a gas-powered mule robot carrying kit tested by the Marines before being repealed as too powerful for use in war. In 2019, the military studied an all-electric robot with legs for similar purposes, called Adaptation for movement and movement of the legs, or LLAMA.

[Related: Ghost Robotics now makes a lethal robot dog]

However, modern four-legged robots, such as the Boston Dynamics Spot family of machines and the Ghost Robots Q-UGV, run on battery power and can move much quieter with people or over terrain that can be walked on. This is the great promise of biomimicry and machines that can walk in places where people can. The advantage of machines is to take an animal-inspired body and modify it in a way that does not happen naturally. Spot variants are known to add a robotic gripper, which allows the machine to throw cans of beer and manipulate the doors.

And now NAUT allows a dog-shaped robot to move with a water jet drive. The jet absorbs water and discharges it at a higher speed, which allows the Vision 60 to move with vector thrust in a body of water.

“The system is able to power the robotic dog and accelerates three knots and can run at full power using a special power source for approximately 35 minutes,” said The military zone. The “tail” can also continue to function afterwards, drawing electricity from the robot dog’s own internal energy source.

At 3 knots or just 3.4 miles per hour, the NAUT Vision 60 will not win races, but must be fully capable of crossing streams and calm waters. The ability to move like an amphibian makes the robot useful for reconnaissance and patrol in coastal or river terrain and probably even used in difficult terrain in a swamp or bay. For soldiers and Marines who fight on foot, overcoming such obstacles means slowing down and leaving vehicles that cannot handle the ground. A robot scout can keep up with troops, and can also be used to find a safer passage without worrying about getting stuck when his feet can’t reach the riverbed.

[Related: The Air Force’s new guard dogs are robots]

Beyond NAUT’s queue, Vision 60 robots can be equipped with a lidar, a tool that allows the machine to map its surroundings with a laser and even weapons, such as the sniper rifle version, which debuted in 2021. the same robot can charge the battery and engines with too much for a mission, but the ability to exchange and add modifications means that the robot can be a useful tool in different circumstances.

A robot with legs that can walk wherever a person can is a useful companion. A robot that can be piloted to reconnaissance forward, crossing a river before greater force to ensure that the landing site is safe, is a more powerful asset. The greater usefulness of the Vision 60 will depend to some extent on how autonomous it can travel by land and water, but even the ability to track GPS points plotted on a control site can allow the machine to explore ahead, so quietly. as much as electric motors. will allow.

Watch a longer video about the swimming machine, here.

A new tail accessory propels this robot dog across streams

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