The study of robotics has long been a point of fascination as researchers have sought to discover the potential for automated technology. While the development of autonomous machines certainly isn’t new, mobile robots have found their way into a variety of industries as of late, especially in the manufacturing industry—specifically, quadrupedal robots.
The quadruped robot, modernly known as the robo-dog, is a four-legged robot capable of exploring dangerous or unstructured terrains autonomously. These robo-dogs can be purchased by businesses and developers to explore and complete tasks in locations that aren’t suitable for a human, and have been deployed in military bases and power plants alike. From 2005 till present time, robo-dogs have had quite the evolution. Read on to discover how they started out and where they are headed in the future.
The first automated robo-dog emerged in the United States back in the 1960s, but their first industrial-grade robotic dog wasn’t until 2005. The BigDog was designed to help soldiers navigate unsafe terrains, and is similar in size to a large dog. This robo-dog was powered by a go-kart engine and was able to carry 340 pounds autonomously, which helped to provide support to soldiers in the field.
In 2016, ANYmal was developed by ANYbotics. This quadruped was designed for use in industrial power plants, where they were able to conduct end-to-end inspections in tough to reach spots. The ANYmal was able to navigate and complete tasks independently, and was equipped with laser sensors that provided thermal and acoustic readings. This robo-dog could operate in rain, snow, wind, and dusty environments.
One of the most recent robo-dogs to hit the scene is the CyberDog, which was developed in 2021 by Xiaomi Global. This open source robotic dog was designed for developers and researchers to build upon, discover any flaws and create iterations to remedy them. This robo-dog is able to move quickly and avoid obstacles in it’s path without any human guidance. It also has the ability to do a backflip and contains face recognition tracking capabilities.
The safety concerns of robo-dogs
While these robo-dogs have garnered a lot of attention and respect, any form of technology comes with possible security concerns that shouldn’t be overlooked—especially as the complexity of cyber attacks are constantly evolving. Robo-dogs become vulnerable within their environments because they are exposed to corporate networks within the industrial plants. Here are some of the main security concerns associated with quadrupeds:
Potential for Hacking
Robotic dogs’ parts are both mechanical and connected by online systems, which puts them at risk of being hacked and controlled by vengeful attackers.
Denial-of-Service (DoS) Attacks
If a robotic dog is connected to a corporate network with a lack of secure networking between the robot and its control panel, this could lead to a potential denial-of-service (DoS) attack. A denial-of-service attack makes information systems, devices, and networks inaccessible to the people who need them, and instead control is maintained by the hacker.
Exposure of Sensitive Data
Another possible threat with the evolution of robotic dogs is that a lack of robotic system encryption can expose sensitive data and design plans. In this instance attackers aim to encrypt all the data linked to the robotic system, devices, and networks.
While there are security risks to be aware of when it comes to quadrupedal robots, they are quickly becoming a fantastic source of innovation across countless industries. For more details on the evolution of robo-dogs and where they’re headed in the future, check out this animation.
Sophie Isbell writes on behalf of Panda Security covering cybersecurity and online safety best practices for consumers and families. Specifically, she is interested in removing the barriers of complicated cybersecurity topics and teaching data security in a way that is accessible to all. Her most recent piece is on the evolution of robotic dogs and where they’re headed next.