back to article US Air Force deploys robot security dogs to guard base

Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is now guarded by robotic canines that will patrol the area before popping back to their kennels for a recharge. Over the past year the 325th Security Forces Squadron have been trialing the security robots via a so-called "3D Virtual Ops Center," where the hardware hounds patrol the grounds …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    INTRUDER DETECTED!

    THROW THE STICK!

    YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO COMPLY!

  2. ThatOne Silver badge
    Happy

    Thanks

    > Do they byte?

    Made my day!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thanks

      Best punchline ever!

    2. steelpillow Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Thanks

      Do they byte?

      No, but some of the code is a bit ruff!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Thanks

        And it brings a whole new meaning to InternetofShit ...

      2. steelpillow Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Thanks

        "No, but some of the code is a bit ruff!"

        In fact it runs like a dog.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    House!

    "will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness "

    I claim my bullshit bingo prize!

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: House!

      More importantly - if they are driven using a VR headset then they can't multiply the force, they can only shift it...

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: House!

        I'd like to think the VR operator is able to switch between all the robo-dogs at will as they pad around the base automatically, reducing the number of meatsack patrols.

      2. Foxglove
        Coat

        Re: House!

        Shift Left = x2, there's your multiplier.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through the dogs

    Does the robodog give the person a choccy treat if they obey? I Think they've got the whole "who gives the orders thing" the wrong way round with this idea.

  5. macjules Silver badge

    "No offensive capability has been built into these puppies"

    Yeah, right. They are really going to admit that each dog has a shotgun built into a leg, can fire tracking pellets, climb trees and remotely control vans.

    1. arachnoid2 Bronze badge

      Re: "No offensive capability has been built into these puppies"

      A local emp device to disable vehicles could work

  6. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Three years minimum seems very light in the US scale of imprisonment. Was there anything on the laptop other than his email contacts list?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Today's sentence should stand as a warning to others who might be tempted similarly to put the nation's security at risk.

      And back home in China, his extended family have received promotions at work, his parents have a nice new retirement flat and friends have all had their "social score" enhanced. And when he gets deported in just 3 years, he'll have a nice flat and a generous state pension. Clearly a major deterrent.

      And as for his colleagues in the US, no doubt they're now subject to some ridiculously onerous "hand in your laptop during high days and holidays" procedure as the stable door is wedged shut with a bit of chewing gum, ready for the next time.

      1. khjohansen
        Black Helicopters

        "Tempted .." ?

        .. or he was incentivized by the chincom gov't by a reminder that he (for the time being) still has a family, and that they are still living in their flat ...

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: "Tempted .." ?

          70 years after the civil war ended there's no need for reminders, it's built in from birth that volunteering to do 'a good deed for the state' has by far the best outcome.

  7. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    Burning books...

    The story immediately made me think of the mechanical hound that gets sent to hunt down Guy Montag in Farenheit 451.

    1. vogon00

      Re: Burning books...

      "gets sent to hunt down Guy Montag"

      ...and that it gets sicced onto some poor unfortunate once they realise that their 'livestream' will show it's failure to actually kill the target it was supposed to, deny the public their entertainment and make the authorities look like chumps.

      It looks like a Boston Dynamics 'Spot', cammo-ed up a bit.

      Not a bad use case for the thing really... remote controlled mobile patroling / intrusion detection is a step forward....although I think it's only a matter of time before someone decides to put some sort of offensive (AKA 'Self-defensive') capability on board.

      Could even be better than a human MK1 eyeball for some things in the role thanks to the sensor options available.

      Also : "It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with...it doesn't feel pity of remorse or fear...and it absolutely will not stop." :-)

      1. Ashentaine

        Re: Burning books...

        >although I think it's only a matter of time before someone decides to put some sort of offensive (AKA 'Self-defensive') capability on board.

        I'm not really sure what you could realistically mount on it, though. Ballistic weapons are a bad idea, as the recoil and vibration from firing would probably damage the robot and be highly inaccurate after the first shot (to say nothing of the problems of ammo storage and hardpoint location). Taser/electrical would likely require lots of shielding to protect the electronic parts, which is more cost than it's worth. At most, these could maybe have some kind of pepper spray or smoke canister dispenser.

        And even then, considering they're being used on a military base they don't really need to do much more than pinpoint the location of a troublemaker, as there are surely enough properly armed and armored humans about to do the job properly.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Burning books...

          "Ballistic weapons are a bad idea, as the recoil and vibration from firing would probably damage the robot"

          At the distances involved, I rather suspect .22 lr rounds would be more than enough for soft targets. Use a modified Ruger 10/22 action that is capable of select fire, nostril mounted 6/7 inch barrel, a 50ish round drum magazine, crosshairs in the VR headset, and Bob's yer auntie.

          1. Ashentaine

            Re: Burning books...

            "So tell me again why you need another $2 million added to the defense budget?"

            "Well ah, we need to upgrade our 10 robot dogs so they can bark bullets at trespassers".

            "..at least you didn't say something about dinosaurs with lasers on their heads."

          2. JCitizen
            Pirate

            Re: Burning books...

            @jake - Even better yet, the American 180 22lr machine-gun with 275 round drum - at 1100 rpm the robot would have to be light on the trigger to save ammo, but the ammo would last longer with that big drum. E&L Manufacturing makes them if one wants to take a look just for curiosity sake.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Burning books...

              Ever fire one? I have. Far too much vibration for this kind of job. Probably too much recoil, too (a single .22 lr cartridge doesn't have much kick by itself, but try firing ~200 of them in under a tenth of a second). For the intended use of this critter, select fire ("safe", single shot, 2 or 3 rounds, or full-auto) makes more sense.

              Any more than 50 rounds adds weight and is most likely superfluous. Remember, it'll never be used against anything resembling armor.

              That's not a drum, it's a pan.

        2. Valheru

          Re: Burning books...

          Non-lethal sounds like a first start...

          To distract/attract fire while humans respond from cover:

          A very bright spotlight

          A very loud horn or siren

          A paintball gun with dye for tracking in the ammo.

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Burning books...

            "A paintball gun with dye for tracking in the ammo."

            Works well when convincing some of the more dangerous local fauna to keep away from the Human occupied portions of the Ranch, but I rather suspect that it's a mostly useless option for this kind of operation.

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: Burning books...

      The recent TV adaptation of War of The Worlds used these cyborg quadrupeds as the alien threat. [I know that aren't cyborgs in reality -yet!]

  8. Dinanziame Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    No offensive capability has been built into these puppies, however, they're strictly monitoring only.

    ...so far.

    That said, why robots in the shape of dogs? Can they do anything better than a quadcopter? Or a remote-controlled car?

    1. Ashentaine

      People are pretty much conditioned to ignore whirly-blade type drones now. But you see something even vaguely shaped like a four-legged animal coming your way, it's going to make you stop and pay attention, or possibly freak you out and get you to leave very quickly. Both of which I would imagine is the desired effect in this case.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      > why robots in the shape of dogs?

      Marketing talk! If you look at them, they doesn't really look like dogs, they look just as much like an antelope, or any other long-legged quadruped. Or a sofa table.

      But of course "security antelope" doesn't have the same ring to it as "security dog", so "dog" it is.

      As for why legs, well, it's the most efficient means of locomotion on uneven ground. (Flying is disqualified because it wastes a lot of energy even when staying motionless.)

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        How about security 'Gators?

        1. stiine Silver badge

          At Tyndall, these things are likely to be attacked by alligators..

          Why Tyndall? I thought it got smashed by a hurricane recently (this year or last).

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        We unleash the new Giraffe of Death (tm)

    3. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Drones

      Unless they land, they need power.

      Also a robo-dog probably can be used 1/2 a day without a charge. Standing still and sending back video and audio, or shouting orders uses a lot less power than a hovering drone. Also the base is in control of the terrain.

  9. alain williams Silver badge

    Electronic sausages ?

    You can always distract a real dog with a string of sausages. Is there something equivalent for a robo dog ?

    1. Lotaresco

      Re: Electronic sausages ?

      "You can always distract a real dog with a string of sausages. Is there something equivalent for a robo dog ?"

      You could always distract them with a trail of nibbles.

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: Electronic sausages ?

      Throw him a battery?

    3. Spoobistle

      Re: Electronic sausages ?

      No, they're controlled by Secure Sausage Layer.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there something equivalent for a robo dog ?

      There is almost certainly an issue of that august journal "The Beano" which addresses this point directly. My son might even be able to say which issue, but his "filing system" means it would be tricky to be specific.

    5. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      Re: Electronic sausages ?

      Deploy a robotic cat - the dog we used to have when I was younger used to try to launch himself at the garden wall when he spotted a neighbourhood cat on the wall - all the while the cats used to calmly keep walking on top

      1. Tim99 Silver badge

        Re: Electronic sausages ?

        We had a cat that used to sit on our garden wall. The neighbourhood dogs would cross over to the other side of the road when they went past. A Labrador that was walked on a lead would stop at the verge and look up to it’s owner until he gave it the go ahead to cross. Admittedly the cat was very large, very black and very vicious - Your moggie might catch a mouse or sparrow - He would bring home (dead) rabbits and pheasants.

        A very long time ago, I worked at a large site that had armed dog handlers. The legend was that when the union asked why these officers were issued with the old Webley .455 pistol, they were told that "It might be necessary to shoot the dog, when it was off the leash". Staff did not attempt to stroke the dogs...

        1. EBG

          Re: Electronic sausages ?

          Used to work at a site. W ?

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Tim99 Silver badge

            Re: Electronic sausages ?

            W - MoD? If so, I can think of several Ws. This one was very old when was there in 1970s, called ER.. then renamed PE... after merging with a W.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stock photo - no offensive capabilities.

    Actual - has a machine gun mounted to the top of the robot...

  11. khjohansen
    Terminator

    Prototype?

    Am I the only one to notice the prototype *Agent Smith* in the background??

    1. vogon00

      Re: Prototype?

      I don't think he's Agent-ish at all; agents are much better dressed :-)

  12. s. pam
    Trollface

    Big Frigging Lasers

    One hops they're armed to the teeth...

  13. tip pc Silver badge

    It has been a bad week for Cisco, with a host of critical flaws uncovered in some key systems.

    And its only Monday, how much worse can Cisco's week get?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It has been a bad week for Cisco, with a host of critical flaws uncovered in some key systems.

      Lots?

  14. Ima Ballsy
    Holmes

    Ok ....

    Whose gonna cleanup after it ?

    And what does the pooper scooper for it look like ?

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Ok ....

      A D1 Caterpillar?

      1. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge

        Re: Ok ....

        > A D1 Caterpillar?

        Caterpillar D9R nicknamed Doobi by the IDF.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Ok ....

      Off-road and much updated version of the Roomba Dirt Dog?

  15. jake Silver badge

    No offensive capabilities?

    What does it weigh and how fast is it?

    Ever been clipped across the knees by a 28 pound Whippet moving at full tilt?

    1. Coastal cutie

      Re: No offensive capabilities?

      No, but I've been flattened by 80lb of German Shepherd - and he was just playing. 120lb worth of Irish Wolfhound that still thinks he's the size of a puppy doesn't end well either.

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: No offensive capabilities?

      I had a mad whippet and lived by woods. It would seek out the biggest stick in the woods and retrieve twenty foot branches balanced in it's jaws. Not once but many times, I saw her fell people when her log hit the back of their knees. She did it to me too, twice.

      She would never willingly give up her branch. I'd pick it up and swing it around and she kept biting on it and swing around.

  16. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    Optional title here

    "No offensive capability has been built into these puppies"

    ...that we are going to tell YOU about.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    Be afraid! Be very afraid!!

    What happens once the robotic sentries learn how to fly the jet fighters, and we all know they will!

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Be afraid! Be very afraid!!

      It'll be a dogfight...

  18. martin 62

    screw robo-dog they need.....

    Screw robo-dog they need ed 209 they are much more effective and scenes like these can play out:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfaPYAkcG_4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UNJNH7UFjU

  19. steelpillow Silver badge
    Joke

    Smart lamp post

    How does a robo dog react to a smart LED lamp post? Cock its leg to reveal a 5G antenna and unleash a data stream?

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