The United States Department of Homeland Security this week detailed ongoing work with its Science and Technology Directorate exploring the use of quadruped canine robots on the nation’s southern border. Specifically, the division is deploying these Spot-like robots to patrol stretches which may in any other case be inhospitable to human brokers.
“The southern border can be an inhospitable place for man and beast, and that is exactly why a machine may excel there,” the DHS’s Brenda Long stated in an announcement tied to the information. “This S&T-led initiative focuses on Automated Ground Surveillance Vehicles, or what we call ‘AGSVs.’ Essentially, the AGSV program is all about…robot dogs.”
The program is partnering with Ghost Robots, a Philadelphia-based agency that has, in the previous, labored with massive firms like Verizon. More not too long ago the firm made headlines when one in every of its robots was seen sporting a remote-controlled sniper rifle (SWORD Defense Systems Special Purpose Unmanned Rifle or SPUR) at a commerce present. It’s a line that the best-known quadrupedal robotics agency, Boston Dynamics, hasn’t been keen to cross, regardless of earlier conversations with DARPA.
The acknowledged use for these robots on the border is patrolling. The programs can wander autonomously or be managed remotely, sending stay video feeds to operators. There’s definitely no indication right here that these robots can be geared up with any kind of weapons programs in fact, despite that being the factor that put the firm on many individuals’s radar.
For its half, Ghost says it proudly companions with the U.S. authorities and takes a largely agnostic strategy to issues like payload.
“We don’t make the payloads. Are we going to promote and advertise any of these weapon systems? Probably not,” CEO Jiren Parikh instructed me in an interview final yr. “That’s a tough one to answer. Because we’re selling to the military, we don’t know what they do with them. We’re not going to dictate to our government customers how they use the robots. We do draw the line on where they’re sold. We only sell to U.S. and allied governments. We don’t even sell our robots to enterprise customers in adversarial markets. We get lots of inquiries about our robots in Russia and China. We don’t ship there, even for our enterprise customers.”
DHS cites myriad causes for curiosity in know-how, past the usually inhospitable nature of the space.
“Just like anywhere else, you have your standard criminal behavior, but along the border you can also have human smuggling, drug smuggling, as well as smuggling of other contraband—including firearms or even potentially, WMD,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agent Brett Becker says in the publish. “These activities can be conducted by anyone from just a lone individual, all the way up to transnational criminal organizations, terrorists or hostile governments—and everything in between.”
There’s no particular time-frame for deployment famous in the publish, however the staff is subject testing robots geared up with issues like night time imaginative and prescient and they’re being put to work in out of doors areas and situations designed to mimic residential buildings.
“Technology such as semi-autonomous drones (air, ground, and even water) are used effectively as force multipliers elsewhere—and robot dogs are no different,” Long stated. Given the historical past of the United States authorities’s use of drones, nevertheless, it may not be the very best connection for the DHS to attract singing the praises of placing robots to work in the subject.