A Florida air base is set to add a team of robotic patrol dogs to its security forces.
The robotic K9s are the product of almost a decade’s worth of research by Pennsylvania robotics company Ghost Robotics. Over the next couple of months, four of the dogs are expected to be deployed at Tyndall Air Base in Panama City, Florida, where the New York Post reports they will be used to ‘enhance security and surveillance operations’.
The dogs can be remotely controlled by humans, but they’ve also got the ability to roam around autonomously. With a seven-hour battery life, they’re capable of pulling a full day’s shift before returning to their charging station to rest up. The K9s have sensors to detect movement and sound, and their owners can even get a dog’s eye view of their surroundings by using a VR headset to operate them.
The Ghost Robotics Vision 60 dogs were initially trialled earlier this year at a Nevada air base as part of the US military’s new ‘Advanced Battle Management System’. In the future, it’s thought they could be used alongside other autonomous vehicles to scout for threats in real-life conflict zones.
Major Jordan Criss, who commands the 325th Security Forces Squadron responsible for the dogs, recently gave a demonstration of the new technology to local news reporters.
This is a springboard into the future of integrated defence.
This is only the first step, and what we’re very excited to do is be that test and evaluations site which proliferates the rest of this technology for the rest of the Air Force
While the K9s are designed to provide an extra layer of security for US forces, the idea of robotic army dogs wandering around freely and unsupervised might not be that reassuring to everyone. What if they mistake a friendly face as an enemy? What if they get hacked?
But rather than spending all their time snapping at the heels of unsuspecting visitors, Major Criss explained that the dogs were designed to work in tandem with existing security forces.
He told WMBB-TV:
They’re not there to hurt anybody; they are there to be an extra set of eyes and ears for our defenders,
They can do in-depth terrain analysis and enhance the situational awareness for our defenders
That being said, apparently if someone tries to steal or damage one of the dogs, they can trigger a defence mechanism that will ‘hurt’ the offender. So maybe it’s best not to try and pet them.
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Topics: Technology, Florida, K9, Robotics, US Air Force