Boston Dynamics and Ghost Robotics have both been offering similarly disturbing four-legged automatons to consumers for a few years now — though only one of those companies has recently attached a sniper rifle to their product. However, as it stands, turning your four-legged robot into a killing machine doesn’t seem to be enough of a differentiation to avoid a legal battle, as Technical Crunch and elsewhere reports that Boston Dynamics has filed a lawsuit against Ghost Robotics alleging multiple patent infringements.
According to legal paperwork filed Nov. 11, Boston Dynamics accuses their rival of blatantly copying seven patents for “core technology” related to Spot, the plaintiff company’s four-legged, dog-like robot. “Boston Dynamics’ early success with the Spot robot has not gone unnoticed by competitors in the robotics industry, including Ghost Robotics,” states a portion of the filing, which specifically mentions Ghost Robotics’ Vision 60 and Spirit 40 quadruped products. call out. Boston Dynamics also says it sent Ghost a request to review its patents over the summer, followed by multiple cease-and-desist letters that went unanswered.
[Related: Boston Dynamics gave its dog-like robot a charging dock and an arm on its head.]
As Technical Crunch also notes that while Boston Dynamics previously sold products to law enforcement groups like the New York Police Department (though that partnership ended last year), it remains opposed to weaponizing robots. Last month, the company even added its name to an open letter speaking out against the practice, along with companies that include Clearpath Robotics and ANYbotics. “We believe that the addition of weapons to remotely or autonomously controlled robots, widely available to the public, and capable of navigating to previously inaccessible places where people live and work, introduces new risks of harm and serious ethical issues ,” reads part of the letter. “Weaponized applications of these newly capable robots will also undermine public confidence in the technology in ways that undermine the tremendous benefits they bring to society.”
Compare that to Ghost Robotics, whose CEO once promised, “We’re not going to dictate to our government customers how they use the robots” shortly after debuting one of its aforementioned four-legged robots with SWORD Defense Systems Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle (SPUR). ) mounted on it at a trade show.
Ghost Robotics has yet to respond to the allegations at the time of writing.