Some time ago, we highlighted Ghost Robotics, a military hardware business that showcased a robodog with an attached sniper weapon. Experts have been speaking out against the heavily armed robodog since it was revealed to the public, claiming that it represents a tipping point in the creation of killer robots and that now is an urgent time to rethink whether the technology should be permitted at all. In the midst of the debate, Hyundai-owned robotics company Boston Dynamics is suing rival Ghost Robots, alleging that Ghost Robots infringed on seven of Boston Dynamics’ patents connected to the company’s well-known robodog, the Spot quadruped.
Given that the robots all essentially have the same appearance and that Spot, which debuted in 2019, unquestionably led the pack, a lawsuit is not at all unexpected. The Spirit 40, the second iteration of Ghost Robotics’ robodog series, and the Vision 60, which made news when the company attached a sniper rifle to it, were released in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Just a few months after Spirit 40 became available, Boston Dynamics first requested that Ghost Robotics evaluate its robodog patents in 2020 and has since submitted additional cease-and-desist letters. Boston Dynamics wants to take Ghost Robotics to court since it appears that they did not abide by the cease and desist order.
“We do not comment on the specifics of pending litigation,” a spokesperson from Boston Dynamics told the Robot Report over email. “We welcome competition in the emerging mobile robotics market, but we expect all companies to respect intellectual property rights, and we will take action when those rights are violated.”
Ghost Robotics has responded to the lawsuit, accusing Boston Dynamics of filing an “obstructive and baseless” suit to stifle competition. The press release goes on to say “Ghost Robotics’ success has not gone unnoticed by Boston Dynamics. Rather than compete on a level playing field, the company chose to file an obstructive and baseless lawsuit on November 11th in an attempt to halt the newcomer’s progress. Boston Dynamics is drawing on their considerably larger resources to litigate instead of innovate.
Ghost Robotics strongly believes that fair competition drives the market and looks forward to a thriving legged robot industry, for the benefit of humanity.”