Has the US Air Force gone to the dogs?

15 November 2020 By Paul Martin

Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., this week tested robotic dogs for security patrol operations. Photo by A1C Tiffany Price/U.S. Air ForceTyndall Air Force Base, Fla., this week tested robotic dogs on a security patrol operation. Photo from U.S. Air Force

The US Air Force has unveiled an addition to its war effort: computerized, four-legged robot dogs to be used for security patrols.

The Philadelphia-based technology company Ghost Robotics worked with the base’s 325th Security Squadron for a year to develop the system of autonomous machines, which were revealed on Nov. 10 in an on-base event.

The robots walk on four legs and resemble dog’s bodies. They are being assigned patrol paths on military bases. The robots are not intended to replace military working dogs, officials said.

“We are very excited,” said Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander. “We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations.”

“These robot dogs will be … patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles.” Criss said.

The robot dogs carry cameras, but not weapons.

“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 added. “They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel.”

The Contingency Response Squadron security team used prototype robot dogs in September at a military exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. The ‘dogs’ were able to secure an airfield after the arrival of airmen for the exercise.

The ‘animals’ provided visuals of the area, while keeping defenders closer to the aircraft.