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AI in Defense: Snowpoint Ventures Predicts Robotic Lizards and Autonomous Drones

Last Updated February 20, 2024 1:39 PM
Samantha Dunn
Last Updated February 20, 2024 1:39 PM

Key Takeaways

  • The U.S. Navy is exploring the use of AI-powered lizard-like robots potentially revolutionizing naval operations.
  • These technologies offer strategic advantages, such as identifying vulnerabilities and enhancing decision-making speeds in critical situations.
  • Doug Philippone, the co-founder of Snowpoint Ventures and Palantir Technologies’ global defense lead, underscores the use-case of AI’s rapid decision-making in addressing global threats.

The future of military operations is on the brink of transformation, spearheaded by advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics.

Among the pioneering AI developments are devices like a lizard-like robot and drones designed to navigate and operate effectively in environments where traditional communication systems are compromised.

Gecko Robotics’ AI-powered lizard-like robots

Snowpoint Ventures, under the guidance of co-founder Doug Philippone, is at the forefront of integrating AI into defense strategies. The firm’s investment in AI technologies spans a wide array of applications, from autonomous drones that can function in the most challenging warzones to sophisticated AI systems capable of piloting aircraft.

Doug Philippone, who has served as the global defense head of Palantir Technologies since 2008, brings a wealth of experience and insight into the potential of AI in defense.

His perspective is clear: the evolving threats on the global stage demand faster decision-making and the ability to act swiftly and efficiently. Philippone’s vision for the future of defense emphasizes how AI is critical in achieving these goals, ensuring that military operations can stay a step ahead of adversaries.

In a recent interview with Fox News , Philippone brought up new lizard-like robots, capable of climbing and inspecting naval vessels with a precision that was previously unimaginable.


These robots, inspired by the natural agility and wall-scaling abilities of geckos, are equipped with advanced AI that enables them to detect and predict points of failure in critical infrastructure.

Developed by Gecko Robotics, these robots can scale walls and inspect infrastructure, significantly outperforming traditional methods.

Defense Tech & Data Collection

Gecko Robotics was recently valued  at $633 million., raising $100 million for defense tech. One of the standout features of Gecko Robotics’ technology is its ability to gather data at a scale and speed previously unattainable.

According to the company , their robots can collect data 1,000 times more comprehensively than traditional methods, and do so ten times faster. This capability is due to the robots’ specially designed sensor payloads, which can accurately measure wall thickness, identify pitting, and detect various forms of degradation.

The Navy can now conduct thorough inspections of carbon steel equipment, from boilers and pressure vessels to the vast exteriors of ships, with a level of detail and efficiency far surpassing traditional methods. This approach not only promises to reduce maintenance cycle times but also to prevent unnecessary replacements and repairs, saving considerable resources and keeping vessels operational without extended drydock periods.

The Role of Human Judgment

Despite the cutting-edge technology and the potential to dramatically enhance maintenance efficiency, Philippone stresses the importance of human oversight. The goal of integrating such advanced AI and robotic solutions is to assist, not replace, human decision-making processes.

“All of this technology should assist humans in making decisions, not make the decisions for them […] I firmly believe that you need a human to do that to really encapsulate the risks of those decisions” Philippone told Fox News.

This human-centric approach ensures that the technological advancements serve to enhance the strategic capabilities of the Navy, allowing for smarter, more informed decisions regarding maintenance and operations. The adoption of Gecko Robotics’ technology by the Navy for use on amphibious assault ships and Arleigh Burke-class destroyers is intended to improve the effectiveness of military operations

Gecko Robotics looks at the application of AI robotics in multiple areas, including sustainability. The expansion of its partnership  with the US Navy builds on the crossover of AI with robotics, an area that is a key focus point for the US military.

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