A High-Tech Best Friend and Campfire Lighter

May 1, 2024

Vea4_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_thumb_tNote: This essay is the work of a real and still-alive dinobaby. No smart software involved, just a dumb humanoid.

A dog is allegedly man’s best friend. I  have a French bulldog,

tibby asleep 3

and I am not 100 percent sure that’s an accurate statement. But I have a way to get the pal I have wanted for years.

 Ars Technica reports “You Can Now Buy a Flame-Throwing Robot Dog for Under $10,000” from Ohio-based maker Throwflame. See the article for footage of this contraption setting fire to what appears to be a forest. Terrific. Reporter Benj Edwards writes:

“Thermonator is a quadruped robot with an ARC flamethrower mounted to its back, fueled by gasoline or napalm. It features a one-hour battery, a 30-foot flame-throwing range, and Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity for remote control through a smartphone. It also includes a LIDAR sensor for mapping and obstacle avoidance, laser sighting, and first-person view (FPV) navigation through an onboard camera. The product appears to integrate a version of the Unitree Go2 robot quadruped that retails alone for $1,600 in its base configuration. The company lists possible applications of the new robot as ‘wildfire control and prevention,’ ‘agricultural management,’ ‘ecological conservation,’ ‘snow and ice removal,’ and ‘entertainment and SFX.’ But most of all, it sets things on fire in a variety of real-world scenarios.”

And what does my desired dog look like? The GenY Tibby asleep at work? Nope.


I hope my Thermonator includes an AI at the controls. Maybe that will be an add-on feature in 2025? Unitree, maker of the robot base mentioned above, once vowed to oppose the weaponization of their products (along with five other robotics firms.) Perhaps Throwflame won them over with assertions their device is not technically a weapon, since flamethrowers are not considered firearms by federal agencies. It is currently legal to own this mayhem machine in 48 states. Certain restrictions apply in Maryland and California. How many crazies can get their hands on a mere $9,420 plus tax for that kind of power? Even factoring in the cost of napalm (sold separately), probably quite a few.

Cynthia Murrell, May 1, 2024


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