The 325th Security Forces Squadron is getting on-the-job help from a source heretofore considered unusual, but likely to become more ubiquitous as time moves onward. To wit: The unit has begun using robotic dogs as it conducts security patrols at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
The addition of cyber pooches to the squadron’s tool kit is the result of a collaboration between the Air Force and the Philadelphia-based Ghost Robotics Corporation, which developed the technology. Tyndall is the first installation within the Defense Department to put the four-legged robots to use.
After a year in development, the unit and Ghost Robotics showed what the robotic dogs could do during a Nov. 10 demonstration at the base. While welcoming the additional presence, Maj. Jordan Criss, the squadron commander, made clear that they were not intended to replace working dogs of the non-virtual ilk. Rather, the robots are intended to allow security forces to focus on 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 non-commissioned officer will be responsible for allotting paths for the robots to patrol, and monitoring their activities. The operator can redirect the robots via a virtual reality headset, and see what they see via the on-board cameras and sensor platforms. The operator also will be able to issue verbal commands through the robots, via a radio link.
“They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel,” Criss said.