Almost 40 coders from across industry and defence assembled at MOD Abbey Wood in Bristol to take part in a unique Robot Dog Olympics.
Teams worked with SPOT robotic dogs which are designed to autonomously perform non-offensive tasks to protect troops by searching/scanning or delivering medicine/food into hazardous/disaster areas.
Tasks coders were challenged to programme the dogs to do included a 50-metre sprint; a gymnastics routine and problem solving.
Natasha Dell, an algorithm engineer from Thales, said:
“I have been really surprised by how agile and responsive the robotic dogs are. They are incredibly mobile and the speed at which they move is impressive as well as the tasks they can complete.”
The event was run by the Future Capabilities Group (FCG) at DE&S in conjunction with Team Defence Information, a body that helps develop innovative solutions for the front line.
Suzy Harris, Head of Expeditionary Robotics for FCG, said:
“Robotics and autonomous systems are becoming increasingly important in allowing soldiers to operate faster, for longer and enabling them to step back from some of the most challenging and dangerous tasks.”
Colonel Dan Anders-Brown, customer lead at DE&S, said:
“The coders have confirmed what we already knew. These are highly capable systems and could significantly reduce risk to life of our soldiers by removing the requirement to carry out dangerous activity in the modern battlespace.”
SPOT is manufactured by Boston Dynamics which has a well-publicised ethics policy on the use of their systems in any offensive manner. Marlborough Communications Ltd (MCL) acquire the platforms on behalf of MOD and provide through life support and training.
A spokesperson for MCL said:
“Marlborough Communications Ltd are delighted to support DE&S in its drive to exploit innovation through technology, within the Robotic and Autonomous domain.”