Deadly War Robot Showcased by Russia Is Actually a Pet Dog Bot

A new Russian RPG-launching robot is in fact a modified Chinese home dog bot, according to an investigation.

The M-81 robot dog, which is armed with an RPG-26 rocket launcher, was displayed at the Army 2022 International Military-Technical Forum, a major arms fair, in Moscow this week.

Video of the robot dog walking, sitting down and standing up went viral on social media after being published by Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Reposted on Twitter by Rob Lee, an expert on the Russian military at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a U.S. think tank, it received more than 500,000 views and 1,900 retweets.

However, according to The Insider, an online newspaper that specializes in exposing fake news in the Russian media, the robot dog is a modified "Go1 bot made by the Chinese company Unitree Robotics" which is "essentially a toy".

"Despite the fact that at the presentation the robot was wrapped in a black costume, thanks to its appearance the 'M-81 complex' was easily recognized as the Go1 bot made by the Chinese company Unitree Robotics by the octagonal shape of its head and by its front cameras which could be seen through the cover," it said.

The Go1 bot has been available for sale for over a year in two variants, costing between $2,700 and $3,500.

The M-81 robot-dog was produced by Intellect Machines JSC, a St. Petersburg based company headed by Alexei Aristov.

Russian rocket launching robot is Chinese copy
Participants look at a Tigr military vehicle during the International Military Technical Forum 'Army 2022' on August 15, 2022 in Kubinka, outside of Moscow, Russia. The M-81 rocket launcher armed robot-dog was displayed at the show. Contributor/GETTY

In a Telegram post, its designers commented: "This is a sample of the M-81 robotic system, capable of conducting aimed shooting and transporting weapons, and for civilian purposes it can be used in the emergency zone for reconnaissance, passage through rubble and delivery of medicines.

"When used in combat, the robotic dog can also be engaged in target designation, patrolling and security."

According to its manufacturers, Go1 bot can carry a maximum weight of three kilograms (6.6 pounds).

The Insider reports this means it can carry an RPG-26 launcher as seen in the video, but not one loaded with a rocket as this pushes the weight up to 4.7 kilograms (10.4 pounds).

It is also unable to operate on rough or wet terrain and is vulnerable to hacking.

Speaking at the arms fair on Monday, President Vladimir Putin said Russia has weapons that are "decades ahead of their foreign counterparts".

He said: "We are talking about high-precision weapons and robotics, combat systems based on new physical principles.

"Many of them are years, perhaps even decades ahead of their foreign counterparts, and significantly superior in terms of tactical and technical characteristics."

Putin said last month that the Russian Navy will receive Zircon hypersonic missiles within months—apparently beating the U.S. in an arms race for this new type of weapon.

Recently Colin Kahl, the U.S. undersecretary of defense for policy, estimated Russia has suffered 70,000-80,000 casualties since invading Ukraine in February.

He commented: "It's safe to suggest that the Russians have probably taken 70 or 80,000 casualties in less than six months.

"That is a combination of killed in action and wounded in action and that number might be a little lower, a little higher, but I think that's kind of in the ballpark."

Alexei Aristov, founder of Intellect Machines JSC, has been contacted for comment.