China has exhibited its latest weapon of war – an armed mini- robot named Sharp Claw 1.
The device, designed to be carried to and from the battlefield inside its brig brother, the six-wheeled Sharp Claw 2, is just two feet tall but packs a mighty punch.
The little drone carries a 7.62mm light machine gun alongside its loadout of electro-optical reconnaissance equipment.
It was first reported in 2014, but this latest upgrade adds offensive capability to Sharp Claw’s original scouting role.
The mini-tank’s top speed is around 6mph, rather more than a brisk walk, but it can sustain that for long periods over rough terrain, as well as climbing stairs and operating in almost complete darkness.
Sharp Claw’s size is reported as 70 centimetres (27.6 inches) long, 60 centimetres (23.6 inches) tall and 120 kilograms (264.6 pounds) in weight.
Sharp Claw 2 can also carry an airborne drone to expand the system’s reconnaissance capabilities.
There have been repeated calls from human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic to ban ” killer robots,” but despite that several military contractors around the world are developing autonomous weapons platforms.
Military expert Bai Mengchen, speaking to Chinese news network CCTV, stressed that a human operator would always make the decision to use Sharp Claw’s weapons.
“It can react much faster than humans, but the problem is it cannot improvise – therefore a human must supervise it and halt the task when deemed necessary,” he said.
So far only Russia has deployed a combat robot in a combat environment.
The Uran-9, boasts formidable firepower including 30 mm 2A72 autocannon, Ataka anti-tank missiles and Shmel-M thermobaric rocket launchers as well as a 7.62mm machine gun.
The Uran-9 saw service in Syria, where it reportedly underperformed.
The robot tank routinely lost contact with its ground controllers, suffered weapons and suspension malfunctions, and struggled to track a moving target.