By Michael Madrid
The use of autonomous robots in the military, such as the "military robot dog," is becoming more and more prevalent as technology rapidly advances. The military plans to surveil installations through autonomous robots to ensure base security. The Portland Air National Guard 142nd Security Forces Squadron recently implemented what's known as a "Quad-legged Unmanned Ground Vehicle" (Q-UGV) to its base.

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What Exactly Is a Military Robot Dog?

Although military robot dogs, such as Spot, created by Boston Dynamics, have been a part of the armory for some time now, the military is increasingly adding new robot dogs to bases. New designs by Ghost Robotics and Immersive Wisdom have robot dogs equipped with multiple cameras, sensors, and the ability to travel through rough terrain. Essential features of the Q-UGV include its weight, which is approximately 45.4 kg. Furthermore, the Q-UGV has a top speed of 3 m/s, can travel a distance of 12.6 km, has a max power runtime of 3 hours, and can be quickly assembled and disassembled. What makes the Q-UGV so unique is that it can transmit information to the Security Forces Squadron. So, all of the data being picked up by the military robot dog can be collected from far away, making it a great surveillance tool. Ghost Robotics has also unveiled its quadrupedal robot that is fully equipped with a custom gun. While they are not yet used on military bases, the discussion revolving around them is gaining more interest, especially as the topic of fully automated robots taking over ponderous jobs increases. The goal of adding them to various installations is to conduct military base gate security in order to keep members safe. Operators remotely control these autonomous ground vehicles on base, but future plans detail fully autonomous pre-programmed robot dogs that don't need an operator.

Robot Dogs, Military Bases, and Security

A military robot dog can benefit personnel by keeping them out of harm's way. Through the use of the Q-UGV, military personnel will be able to operate them from afar. Additionally, robot dogs will provide capabilities to the military that have never been used before. According to Tech. Sgt. Jamie Cuniff, "If we do encounter an individual, we can engage with them verbally, remotely, from another place on base, while we're responding at the same time. It's a simultaneous response capability that we've never seen before." The Q-UGV is perfect for military base security and provides a new and improved way to surveil incoming threats. Not only does Ghost Robotics plan to help protect military bases, but they also plan to utilize robot dogs to surveil the border.

How Much Money Is a Robot Dog?

Given their advanced capabilities, it is no surprise that the military robot dog costs a hefty amount. Spot, for example, costs approximately $74,500. The Q-UGV can cost up to $150,000, making it significantly more expensive than Spot. Ghost Robotics dogs come equipped with specialized sensors and other add-ons that increase the price. Ideally, if Ghost Robotics wants to implement the Q-UGV among multiple bases, they’ll need to bring the costs down to that of Boston Dynamics.

How Automation Is Changing the Military

Automation is positively changing the military by keeping personnel out of harm's way. The robot dog-military combo is just one of many examples that proves this fact. Just through the use of the Q-UGV, personnel can conduct surveillance without directly being around the danger. The future for autonomous robots is near, and their utilization has thus far been positive. It’s allowed for special protection and provides capabilities to the military that have never been seen before. The military robot dog is just the beginning of automation in the military, and if all things go well, military personnel can expect to see them on active bases soon.

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