French Army uses robotic dog for combat training

The French Army used several robots in a large-scale exercise. Among them is the Spot dog robot, manufactured by the American company Boston Dynamics. This exercise was organized in order to allow the students to discover “the challenges of tomorrow”, including “the robotization of the battlefield”.

Credit: Saint-Cyr Coëquidan

The combined arms military school, located in Saint-Cyr, carried out several major exercises Start of the week. These maneuvers were marked by the use of several robots, the goal being to introduce future Army officers to the advantages and disadvantages of robotic reinforcements.

The primary objective was to make officer cadets, some of whom already had operational experience, aware of the challenges of this type of tool and its potential use within the framework of a doctrine that remains to be defined ”, explains the military institution. During these two days of life-size exercise, participants took part in three different scenarios : the capture of a crossroads, the defense of a position by day and by night, then finally combat in urban areas.

Each operation was performed without a robot by the pupils, then was performed again with the help of four robots, in order to see the advantages and disadvantages of their use. Among them was Spot, the famous robotic dog manufactured by Boston Dynamics, and distributed in Europe by the company Shark Robotics.

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Certain advantages, problematic disadvantages

Already used for civilian and military applications, notably by the New York Police, this is the first time that Spot has been used in a military setting. According to the testimonies of several students, Spot was particularly useful in carrying out reconnaissance operations. “We are more serene if the robot has passed before to make a recce. But we take more time to act with the robots ”, recognizes one of them.

During the urban combat phase without a robot, I was killed. But not the time the robot did the reconnaissance. On the other hand, we experienced their limited autonomy: Spot found itself short of energy during the assault ”, abounds one of his comrades. Apart from Spot, the 80 participants also maneuvered with an observation robot called Nerva, a kind of remote control car equipped with a camera.

The French company Nexter also supplied the military forces with the OPTIO 20, a heavy ground drone armed with a 20mm cannon. The most impressive, however, is the ULTRO, a versatile, modular and multi-mission tactical robot. Its main strength is being able to carry no less than 600 kg of various materials.

Shark Robotics also took advantage of the exercise to present its progress on the BARRACUDA, a combat and transport robot unveiled during the parade on July 14 in 2019. Modular, it can carry a large number of accessories such as smoke grenade launchers, or a large frontal shield, used during these exercises. As a reminder, the French Army recently ordered 300 Parrot micro-drones.

Source: West France

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