During combat or any other dangerous situation, why send in a person when you send in a goat instead? That’s the question posed by a new robotics platform working with the Marines.
Marines with the Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group (TTECG), along with the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command (MCAGCC) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR), recently tested a quadruped robotic platform referred to as the “robotic goat.” Though it bears a slight resemblance to a goat, particularly in terms of movement, it’s actually a remote-controlled device built for multiple mission applications.
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The robot is agile enough to move over rough terrain. It features an extensive range of motion including walking, running, jumping, turning 90 degrees, swaying suggestively, and sitting up and begging, all of which can be performed through the camera-equipped controller. In a video posted by the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, a woman demoing the device mentions a larger version of the robot that wears a “goat head mask” while either growling, barking or emitting a siren.
It all prompted one Marine in attendance to say, “That thing is creepy, man.”
Indeed, it is a little creepy. But it’s also very capable. It has sensors on the front, underneath and on the sides, and it can also carry various weapons systems mounted on its back. During the test completed in September, the TTECG and ONR test fired an M72 Light Anti-Tank Weapon rocket launcher from the goat’s back.
The goat featured in the video is not necessarily the same goat that would be deployed on the battlefield. The version of the goat issued to Marines would likely have improved battery life, optics and ability to maneuver over terrain. And it has the potential to carry out critical functions while keeping human personnel further from harm’s way.
“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,” said 1st Lt. Aaron Safadi. “The Marine could be behind cover and concealment, the weapon system could go forward, and the Marine could manipulate the safeties from a safe place while allowing that weapon system to get closer to its target.”