Thursday, July 18, 2024

U.S. Air Force tests robot dogs for base security

To increase the use of artificial intelligence in the military, the U.S. Air Force has conducted one of the largest robotic military exercises in history. The Air Force deployed four-legged “robot dogs” to scout for threats before their human counterparts enter the field.

Built by Ghost Robotics, these ‘Vision 60’ type robots are being developed as a part of an innovative and evolving approach to joint warfighting known as the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS), which will use artificial intelligence and data analytics to detect counter threats to the U.S. military. They are designed to conduct a remote inspection, surveillance, or mapping missions, and could be used to patrol perimeters at air bases as well.

The latest exercise, known as an “onramp,” included 70 industry teams, 65 government teams from every service including the Coast Guard, 35 military platforms, 30 geographic locations, and four national test ranges, all contributing to what officials say could be the largest joint experiment in recent history.

The security team provides security with a Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype.
The security team provides security with a Ghost Robotics Vision 60 prototype, at Air Force Base. Credit: U.S. Air Force

The ABMS allows a joint force to use cutting-edge methods and technologies to rapidly collect, analyze, and share information and make decisions in real-time.

Future battlefields will be characterized by information saturation. One of the key objectives of this onramp was to present a dizzying array of information for participants to synthesize, just like they would see in a real operation,” said Dr. Will Roper, Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force for acquisition, technology, and logistics.

This compelled commanders and operators to trust data analytics and artificial intelligence to understand the battle. Valuing data as an essential warfighting resource, one no less vital than jet fuel or satellites, is the key to next-gen warfare,” Roper said.

The robot dogs have been manufactured by Ghost Robotics, a company based in Philadelphia, and are called Vision 60 UGVs, or “autonomous unmanned ground vehicles.” “Beyond all-terrain stability and operation in unstructured environments, a core design principle for our legged robots is reduced mechanical complexity when compared to any other legged robots, and even traditional wheeled-tracked UGVs,” according to their website.

It is stated that the robot, which has a design close to the ergonomic structure of the dog, is more advanced than the previously used unmanned ground vehicles in terms of flexibility and speed as well as digital data transfer capability. It also points out that this way, the robots’ durability, and agility are increased.

ABMS is the top modernization priority for the Department of the Air Force, with a budget of $3.3 billion over five years.