In 2021, The U.S. Air Force deployed to the field the first semi-autonomous robot dogs. They were delivered to Tyndall Air Force Base March 22 for integration into the 325th Security Forces Squadron. The Air Force, a branch of service that prides itself on innovation and embracing emerging technologies, naturally would find a military robot dog that would make the Jetson’s Astro look archaic.
The purpose of the Quad-legged Unmanned Ground Vehicles, or Q-UGVs, is to add an extra level of protection to the base. The military robot dog, designed by Ghost Robotics and Immersive Wisdom, are the first of their kind to be integrated onto a military installation and one of many innovation-based initiatives to begin at Tyndall AFB, coined the “Installation of the Future.”
Air Force officials say that the military robot dog will increase situational awareness for Air Force security forces who will use the military robot dog as a mobile sensor platform. The military robot dog can patrol remote areas of a base while defenders can continue to patrol and monitor other critical areas of an installation.
Features applied to the military robot dog allow for easy navigation on difficult terrains. The military robot dog can operate in 40-degrees below zero, and in 131-degree heat. The military robot dog has 14 sensors giving it 360-degree awareness. The military robot dog is also equipped with a crouch mode that lowers their center-of-gravity and a high-step mode that alters leg mobility, among other features.
Air Force officials at Tyndall AFB said the military robot dog is highly mobile and with the amount of construction happening at Tyndall over the next few years, the military robot dog will help them maintain and increase their security posture. Tyndall AFB is expected to set the benchmark for the rest of the Defense Department when it comes to Q-UGV usage.
In December 2021, the Portland Air National Guard began to use the military robot dog, making it the first Air National Guard base to house the innovative technology. Like Tyndall, the military robot dog is being deployed and utilized by Air Force Security Forces at the 142nd Security Forces Squadron.
Security Forces members refer to the military robot dog as an autonomous defender. The 142nd will use it to get real-time video feedback which they hope will serve as a deterrent.
The dog, officials said, can also be used to respond to alarm activations and security forces can use the dog to gain awareness of what is happening inside of a facility without exposing any personnel to a possible threat inside.
The military robot dog can independently track the perimeter of a base, scan an area with multiple different camera types, travel long distances on one charge, provide active surveillance of an area, and funnel that information back to those in the security forces squadron through secure means. The security forces can interrupt the autonomous function of the dog at any time and manually control it to focus or direct the capability based on the circumstance.
Officials added that the Air Force should be looking to bring about more similar change like the military robot dog so that some duties that humans don't necessarily have to do or don’t do well can be taken over with the use of technology or some version of innovation that will free up the manpower. The military robot dog can be used autonomously or can be controlled by remote. They can also respond to voice commands.
The use of the military robot dog also prevents real dogs (and their human handlers) from being unnecessarily exposed to danger. Additionally, the camera capabilities provide information that would not be perceptible to the human eye.
Of course, not to be outdone, the tech geek of all military branches, the U.S. Space Force (USSF), had to get its hands on a military robot dog. In July 2022, the Space Force conducted a demonstration using Q-UGVs military robot dogs.
The USSF plans to use the military robot dog for security patrols and other repetitive tasks. And the military robot dog will be used on space launch delta 45 for damage assessments and patrols to save significant man hours. The unit using the military robot dog is responsible for all space launch operations at the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.
The military robot dog can also serve as communications network force multiplier. It can carry antennas that effectively extend networks beyond existing infrastructure or in remote locations where communications infrastructure does not exist.
The military robot dogs are a part of the Air Force’s Advanced Battle Management System data-sharing network. In 2020, military robot dogs at Nellis AFB in Nevada provided real-time strike targeting data to USAF operators in Florida using satellite links.
The military robot dog can withstand water and weather, and if equipped, they can travel underwater.
That’s a good boy!