A First-of-Its-Kind Flamethrower Robot Dog That Blasts 30-Foot Flames Is Now Available to the Public

Out of the mist, a four-legged robot comes crawling — and it’s got a flamethrower strapped to its back.

That isn’t the premise of a dystopian novel, but rather a new product released this week by Ohio-based company Throwflame.

Thermonator, advertised by the company as the “first-ever flamethrowing quadruped robot dog,” blasts fire on demand in a 30-foot range. With WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, the robot can remotely project flames wherever its owner tells it to, with the user’s smartphone acting like a remote control. It has an hour of battery life.

Thermonator uses lidar, or laser pulses, to map its surroundings and navigate around obstacles.

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But why would anyone need a flamethrowing robot dog? Throwflame says that Thermonator can remove ice and snow, control and prevent wildfires, and help agricultural management efforts.

While a fire-blasting robot helping mitigate wildfires may seem counterintuitive at first, the National Park Service describes a method of wildfire management called prescribed burns, or smaller fires planned in advance to reduce the impact of larger ones, that Thermonator could help with — in theory. Throwflame has not yet disclosed how this robot has been used, or if it will be used, by public agencies.

Throwflame also listed “entertainment” as a possible use in the robot’s product description.

The bar to purchasing the robot is financially high but legally low: The robot costs $9,420 but is legal to own in 48 U.S. states, according to Ars Technica.

Boston Dynamics’ robot dog Spot, which got a generative AI update in October but has been in the public eye for close to a decade, seems to be the precursor to Thermonator in form. But while Spot can chat with people and take them on office tours, Thermonator’s purpose seems to be centered on setting things on fire.

Though flamethrowers are only outright banned in one U.S. state (Maryland) using a flamethrower for fun, or ordering one at all, could have legal and safety repercussions.

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Throwflame first advertised Thermonator last year, but Elon Musk’s The Boring Company marketed flamethrowers even earlier, selling 20,000 flamethrowers in 2018 for $500 apiece.

Buyers felt the legal heat: More than 1,000 purchasers had their devices confiscated and had to pay fines, while others faced more severe legal consequences.

There’s no news yet if Thermonator purchasers will face state-specific fines or other legal penalties for using the robot.

There weren’t any security checks in place to safeguard purchases of the robot at the time of writing.

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