U.S. Marines testing their potential replacements in combat — rocket-launching robot goats

TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. — The U.S. Marines are preparing to send “robotic goats” carrying real rocket launchers into battle. American troops began testing the quadruped robotic platform at California’s Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center (MCAGCC) in September.

The exercise saw the agile bot showing off its moves before initiating a test-fire situation. U.S. Marines shot a M72 LAW unguided anti-tank weapon from the goat’s back, while the unit was secured between sandbags for safety.

U.S. Marines conduct a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat, seen here with rocket launcher holding unit on back, at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023.
U.S. Marines conduct a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat, seen here with rocket launcher holding unit on back, at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo released October 19, 2023. (Credit: SWNS)

Deployment of the robots could allow the war machine’s human counterparts to stay under cover while the goat attacks the enemy.

According to an official report of the exercise, the Tactical Training and Exercise Control group (TTECG), in concert with the Office of Naval Research (ONR), “test fired an M72 Light Anti-tank Weapon rocket launcher from the robotic goat.”

“The robotic goat can carry various sensors or weapon systems that would otherwise be carried by a Marine,” the report added.

U.S. Marines show off the moves of a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo released October 19, 2023.
U.S. Marines show off the moves of a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo released October 19, 2023. (Credit: SWNS)

“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,” says 1st Lt. Aaron Safadi, the officer in charge of the emerging technology integration section at TTECG, in a statement.

“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.”

No timeline has been given for deploying robotic goats, but military officials describe the exercise as giving “Marines the opportunity to test emerging technology in an unscripted force-on-force exercise.”

U.S. Marines show off the moves of a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo released October 19, 2023.
U.S. Marines show off the moves of a proof-of-concept Robotic Goat at Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California, Sept. 9, 2023. Photo released October 19, 2023. (Credit: SWNS)

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South West News Service writer Dean Murray contributed to this report.

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