Robot dogs have been used by the US Air Force in one of the military’s biggest ever high-tech experiments.
The robots took part in a training session between September 1 and September 3 at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. It was part of a larger exercise involving every branch of the US military, including the Coast Guard, across 30 locations between August 31 and September 3.
The Air Force tested the dog-like robots, called Vision 60, in an exercise that simulated landing on a potentially hostile airstrip. The robots were used to identify possible threats while human soldiers stayed close to their aircraft.
They have been created by Ghost Robotics to help with tasks including remote inspection, mapping, communications and security. They can be used on any type of terrain and carry different types of sensors and communications equipment.
“The dogs give us visuals of the area, all while keeping our defenders closer to the aircraft,” said Master Sergeant Lee Boston.
They are less complex than other walking robots, which Ghost Robotics says makes them both tougher and more agile. The company calls them “unstoppable.”
The dogs are a part of the US military’s Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). The system uses artificial intelligence and rapid data analysis to find and eliminate threats to the military in space and to help locate possible attacks from missiles and other weapons on land.
This isn’t the first time robot dogs have been tested by the US military. In 2012 it tested the AlphaDog, developed by Boston Dynamics, which was able to carry up to 180 kilograms and walk 32 kilometers without stopping. However, it was retired at the end of 2015 because it was so loud it was feared that it would give away troop positions.
Industry experts are growing more confident that robot systems will soon be ready to work alongside humans in real operations, taking over dangerous or physically demanding tasks.