Four-legged robot dogs joined the United States Air Force as it conducted military exercises last week at the Mojave Desert. This may have seemed like a science fiction movie scene giving us a glimpse of what could ultimately be the future of warfare. The robot dogs form part of the military's Advance Battle Management System (ABMS) that were used during an agile combat employment exercise between Sept 1-3 at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado and Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

A team of 10 Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Group- also known as the Devil Raiders - participated in the exercise along with other active-duty Air National Guard Airmen.

Developed by Ghost Robotics on a contract with the Air Force Research Laboratory, the electronic canine project is called Vision 60 UGVs (V60)- a military-grade version of Ghost Robotics' Quadrupedal Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) platform. The robot dogs are specifically designed for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance missions as well as communications and security.

The robotic canines were boarded onto an Air Force C-130 and were sent outside into a simulated hostile environment to scout for threats, allowing military forces to secure and prepare for possible hostile engagement upon disembarking the aircraft.

As the V60 robot dogs were taken outside onto the airstrip, US Air Force Tech Sgt. John Rodriguez provided security for the four-legged robots, CNN reports.

Master Sgt, Lee Boston, a member of Devil Raiders said, "The dogs give us visuals of the area, all while keeping our defenders closer to the aircraft."

Using artificial intelligence and rapid data analysis, the robotic canines are designed to detect as well as counter threats to US military assets and attacks on US homeland that utilise missiles and various artillery.

Will Roper, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics described the roles of the dogs to be a valuable asset in future battlefields where soldiers face "a dizzying array of information" that need assessment to fight effectively. The dogs will be a reliable source of data synthesis which it can process in nanoseconds. Data is an essential war fighting resource and is the key to next-gen warfare.

"Our warfighters and combatant commands must fight at internet speeds to win," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.

On their website, Ghost Robotics expounds on Vision 60:

"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. By reducing complexity, we inherently increase durability, agility and endurance," it says.

"Our Q-UGVs are unstoppable."

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