- The U.S. Air Force recently used dog-like robots at a major battle exercise.
- The Ghost Robotics Vision 60 is being tested the Australian Army and U.S. Air Force for patrol and security duties.
- A robot sentry would help security teams patrol improvised air bases, alerting them to saboteurs and other threats.
The U.S. Air Force trotted out a robotic dog during a major exercise last weekend at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The Ghost Robotics Vision 60 robot, a four-legged dog-like robot, was seen alongside base security personnel. The service is apparently testing the robo-dogs as a way to patrol small battle spaces and provide needed data resources.
The exercise was part of a test of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), an Air Force project designed to provide command, control, and sensor fusion not only for U.S. Air Force units, but also for other services and potentially allied military forces. ABMS was also used to provide Air Force sensor data to a U.S. Army howitzer that shot down an incoming simulated cruise missile.
In one part of the exercise, an Air Force LC-130 Hercules transport flew from Buckley Air Force Base in Colorado to Nellis, carrying with it airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing. Once on the ground, the airmen released their robo-hounds:
“Our defenders employed the robot dogs,” said Master Sgt. Lee Boston, 321st CRS loadmaster and the CR team chief for the exercise. “These robot dogs are a new technology that we’re testing as part of the exercise. The dogs give us visuals of the area, all while keeping our defenders closer to the aircraft.”
The Vision 60 quadruped robot is currently being evaluated by the U.S. Air Force and Australian Army. It was also involved in DARPA’s Subterranean Challenge, a competitive event that explored ways U.S. forces could use robotics to explore underground military facilities. Here’s a video of the Vision 60 being used in the Australian Army’s optionally crewed combat vehicle testing.
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Ghost Robotics doesn’t say much about the Vision 60 on its website, other than calling it “unstoppable” and capable of both “tele-operated” control and autonomous operation. The company claims that using legs is superior to other methods of movement.
Military robots are inevitable, and robots that mimic actual animals and roles for those animals—in this case military working dogs—will probably be adopted quickly. The airmen in the exercise seem to have taken to the robots, which they openly call dogs.
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These “dogs” can patrol wider areas than real dogs, can’t be killed or injured, and can provide soldiers and airmen with eyes on target in ways real dogs can’t. The only thing they lack is teeth—for now.
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