Internet of Tanks: NATO courts the tech scene

ĀDAŽI, Latvia — Man down. Send in the robot dogs.

A soldier lay on the ground, far away from his platoon, in a battlefield simulation video. To his aid came Spot, a robot dog, legs whirring as it moved around to assess injuries, direct threats and report its precise location back to base.

Spot, originally created by U.S. firm Boston Dynamics to help out on large industrial sites, is part of a generation of technology that is coming out of the research lab and into the capabilities of armies allied in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The alliance showcased some — including Spot, quantum-safe messaging apps, AI chatbots, drone navigation tools and cloud infrastructure — at its recent 5G Next Generation Technology demo just northeast of Latvian capital Riga in October.

Where once innovations like the internet, the microwave and even duct tape came from within the military and found broader use with the public, today it’s the tech industry that is leading the way in transferring technology from homes, work floors and factories back onto the battlefield. Big brands in consumer and enterprise tech like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft are ramping up their efforts on dual-use technology.

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