China’s New Military AI ‘Robot Dogs’ Alarm US Lawmakers

Concerns are mounting in the U.S. over China’s latest military innovation: AI-powered “robot dogs.” A video released on May 25 by China’s state-run CCTV showcased a 110-pound robotic dog equipped with a rifle, exhibiting advanced military tactics. This demonstration has prompted members of Congress to call on the Secretary of Defense to evaluate the potential threat posed by China’s use of AI in its military operations.

The robotic dog, powered by batteries, can operate for two to four hours. It is capable of various movements such as running forward and backward, lying down, and jumping. The robot features a 4-D wide-angle perception system that allows it to transmit real-time reconnaissance footage to command posts. Additionally, the robot dog can autonomously plan routes and avoid obstacles.

The video has sparked fears among U.S. lawmakers that American soldiers may eventually face these armed robotic dogs on the battlefield. This concern was heightened by comments from a Chinese soldier, Chen Wei, who stated that the robot dog could replace human soldiers in urban combat operations by conducting reconnaissance and identifying enemies.

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), a vocal advocate for monitoring AI developments globally, expressed alarm over China’s deployment of these armed robotic dogs. While robotic dogs are not new to the U.S., China’s adaptation of them for military purposes represents a significant escalation.

In response to the video, Buchanan introduced 18 amendments to the latest draft of the National Defense Authorization Act, one of which specifically addresses the need to monitor China’s advancements in AI technology. Buchanan emphasized the importance of staying vigilant about other countries’ AI developments to maintain the U.S.’s position as the world’s leading military force.

“If we don’t pay attention to what other countries around the world are doing on the AI front, we risk losing our standing on the global stage and position as the world’s preeminent fighting force,” Buchanan stated.

As the U.S. continues to grapple with the implications of AI in warfare, China’s advancements in this area serve as a stark reminder of the rapidly evolving nature of military technology and the need for constant vigilance.