Robot dogs start security patrols at US military base


Personnel will have the ability to “drive” the “computerized canines” using virtual reality headsets, according to the US Air Force.

Image: USAirForce/Airman1stClassTiffanyPrice

For the last year, the 325th Security Forces Squadron and Tyndall Air Force Base have worked with Ghost Robotics on a project to “enhance security and safety for the base population,” according to a US Air Force press release. To accomplish this, Tyndall will incorporate a series of “semi-autonomous robot dogs” into patrol regiments, becoming “one of the first” Air Force bases to implement such technologies.

On Tuesday, a demonstration at the Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida illustrated the capabilities of a series of semi-autonomous robots that will be used for base operations. Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander, attended the demonstration.

“We are very excited,” Criss said in the release. “We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations.”

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Image: USAirForce/Airman1stClassTiffanyPrice

Although the computerized quadrupeds resemble canines, the semi-autonomous machines will not replace working military dogs on the base, the military explained. In fact, the robodogs will be used to aid patrol operations, enabling the bases’s “defenders” to instead focus on “security actions that require a physical presence.”

“These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles,” Criss said.

A noncommissioned officer at the Security Forces Electronic Security Sensor System will give the robotic dogs a patrol path and monitor their movements. Virtual reality (VR) will also play a key role in patrol operations.

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“We will be able to drive them via a virtual reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center,” said Criss. “We will be able to see exactly what the robot dog is detecting through its mobile camera and sensor platform if desired, we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through a radio attached to the dogs.”

The Air Force explained that the robotic computerized canines will enable defenders to concentrate on security, training, and “overall situational awareness across the base.”

“These dogs will be an extra set of eyes and ears while computing large amounts of data at strategic locations throughout Tyndall Air Force Base,” Criss said. “They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel.”

The Air Force believes these computerized canines have the ability to potentially exceed and replace the capabilities of certain existing static defense technologies, particularly those used in “contingency, disaster, or deployed environment.”

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