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This Air Force Unit Is Getting the Military’s First Robot Dogs

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Security Forces units at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, will be the first to operate “robot dogs” to patrol alongside airmen.

The 325th Security Forces Squadron will soon start using semi-autonomous droids, developed by Ghost Robotics, for extra security while guarding the Florida Panhandle base, the service said in a release. The unit, the first in the Defense Department to acquire the technology, held a demonstration with the robots Nov. 10.

“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,” said Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander, in the release.

The robots — which are not meant to replace real, military working dogs in any way — will be programmed with a patrol route and monitored by a Security Forces electronic security sensor system noncommissioned officer, the release states.

“We will be able to drive them via a virtual reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center,” Criss said. “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 robot dogs will free up airmen to focus on increased training and give them more flexibility to respond quickly to a potential emergency, Criss added.

“These dogs will be an extra set of eyes and ears while computing large amounts of data at strategic locations throughout Tyndall,” he said. “They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders.”

Ghost Robotics and the Air Force have collaborated before, most recently in September.

As part of a test of the service’s Advanced Battle Management System, a state-of-the-art program that focuses on fusing intelligence-gathering sensor data from a variety of weapons and spacecraft anywhere around the world, the Air Force that month sent out the robot dogs at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to demonstrate the use of smart technologies to supplement operations.

The military is looking for ways to safeguard its bases, particularly from small drones that aim to disrupt operations or spy on aircraft.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

 

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