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Computerized canines to join Team Tyndall

two men talking outside

U.S. Air Force Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander (right), explains the plans for Tyndall Air Force Base’s new robotic unmanned ground vehicles to Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Tyndall is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s into their defense regiment where they will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price)

unmanned ground vehicle outside

An unmanned ground vehicle is tested at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Tyndall is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s into their defense regiment, they will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1 st Class Tiffany Price)

unmanned ground vehicle head on

An unmanned ground vehicle is tested at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Tyndall is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s into their defense regiment, they will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stefan Alvarez)

unmanned ground vehicle

An unmanned ground vehicle is tested at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Tyndall is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s into their defense regiment where they will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price)

man operates controller

U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Beaulieu, 325th Mission Support Group commander, drives an unmanned ground vehicle on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Once the robotic UGV are programmed with a path to follow, they will patrol semi-autonomously, only controlled when needed by a virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price)

man operates controller

U.S. Air Force Col. Gregory Beaulieu, 325th Mission Support Group commander, drives an unmanned ground vehicle on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, Nov. 10, 2020. Once the robotic UGV are programmed with a path to follow, they will patrol semi-autonomously, only controlled when needed by a virtual reality headset. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany Price)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Over the last year, the Tyndall Program Management Office and the 325th Security Forces Squadron here, in coordination with headquarters Air Force Security Forces, have been working with industry to develop a system to enhance security and safety for the base population.

Tyndall is the test base for Ghost Robotics' semi-autonomous robot dogs with possible use across the Air Force as part of the Installation of the Future initiative. The computerized canines demonstrated their abilities Nov. 10 at an event attended by Maj. Gen. Tom Wilcox, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander, and leadership from the 325th Fighter Wing and the Tyndall PMO.

“We are very excited,” said Maj. Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander. “We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations.”

While the robots walk on all fours and resemble a dog, they aren't intended to replace military working dogs. Instead they will aid in patrolling operations and, in doing so, allow Tyndall’s Defenders to focus their efforts on security actions that require a physical presence.

“These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles.” Criss said.

Criss explained that the robot dogs will be given a patrol path set and monitored by the Security Forces Electronic Security Sensor System noncommissioned officer in charge.

“We will be able to drive them via a virtual reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center,” said Criss. “We will be able to see exactly what the robot dog is detecting through its mobile camera and sensor platform if desired, we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through a radio attached to the dogs.”

The semi-autonomous canines give Defenders more time to focus on training, security and overall situational awareness across the base.

“These dogs will be an extra set of eyes and ears while computing large amounts of data at strategic locations throughout Tyndall Air Force Base,” Criss said. “They will be a huge enhancement for our Defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel.”

The technology has the potential to replace and exceed the capabilities of certain static defense equipment especially in a contingency, disaster or deployed environments, making Tyndall, post Hurricane Michael, the perfect home for the new computerized canines.