Robot dog finds new home in US military and security agencies

Robot dogs are finding a new home in Washington’s security establishment, as a Philadelphia-based company is forming a new military partner with the aim of keeping service members and others out of danger.

Ghost Robotics showed off its four-legged creature at the Military Expo in Washington this week. The company recently hired a lobbyist and was spotted holding demonstrations in Northern Virginia.

Robotic dogs’ ability to bite, bark and smell exceeds expectations of man’s best friend — these dogs can carry weapons, communicate over speakers, and detect biological, chemical, nuclear and radiation threats.

“A robot is a tool, right? It’s really a force-multiplying tool; keeping humans out of harm’s way,” Ghost Robotics CEO Gavin Kenneally said in an interview.

Mr. Kenneally’s team used a Samsung tablet to steer its “quadruped unmanned ground vehicle” at the Hyundai Maritime Show in Washington, DC, where government and security customers buy and test the latest equipment from hundreds of suppliers.

The robotic dog can climb, crawl, walk, and run, with a top speed of about ten feet per second. The robots can also dive underwater, and Ghost Robotics can make software to teach it how to paddle through the water, Mr Keneally said.

Mr Keneally said it took about 15 minutes to assemble and disassemble the robot for repairs, saying the robot’s durability and low noise had advantages over other drones and robots.

“What we’re trying to do is keep everyone out of danger and let robots be the way forward and provide [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] Or inspection or security, or whatever needs to happen,” he said.

Ghost Robotics’ customer brochure lists a range of U.S. and allied nations as partners, including the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Department of Homeland Security and Special Operations Command; Singapore’s Ministry of Defence; and the Australian Army, among others.

In February, the Department of Homeland Security announced it would use 100-pound robotic dogs to help Customs and Border Protection agents patrol the southwest border in areas with harsh scenery and “extreme temperatures.”

Mr. Kenneally said Ghost Robotics would keep its government partners secret unless they acknowledged the relationship, when asked about the discovery of his robotic dog outside the Virginia offices of venture capital fund In-Q-Tel, which the CIA contracted earlier this year. , he objected. .

“We are now starting to ramp up production,” Mr Kennely said. “We’re seeing, for example, on the Air Force side, we’re seeing one base become many bases because there’s more natural growth and people are seeing robotic capabilities.”

The Air Force said in 2020 that Tyndall Air Force Base and the 325th Security Forces Squadron have partnered with Ghost Robotics and will incorporate robotic dogs into their patrol regiments.

Ghost Robotics’ website says the company has shipped more than 200 robots to more than 25 national security customers, and Mr. Kennely said the number of robots his company ships is growing every week.

Ghost Robotics, founded in 2015, hired a Washington lobbyist from K&L Gates last month as the company moved from prototyping into late-stage trials and production. The company’s previous CEO, Jiren Narendra Parikh, passed away in March, and Mr Keneally said the late CEO had laid a solid foundation for the company’s future success.

The company wants lobbyists to help promote its product, Mr Keneally said, saying there are no approval issues or restrictions on shipping the robot dog anywhere.

He said Ghost Robotics only sells to the US and its allies. He declined to specify the price of the robot dog, saying customers must request a quote directly from Ghost Robotics so the company can customize the robot suit that best suits their needs. (Forbes reported in February that the robot will sell for around $150,000, with specialized add-ons boosting the final price). A robotic dog’s payload could include weapons, sensors, aerial drones or other tools.

The future of Ghost Robotics may go beyond computerized canines. According to its website, the company foresees a “future of next-generation mobile robots beyond quadrupeds, including human augmentation systems, manipulation systems, and future hybrid mobility platforms.”

In Ghost Robotics’ vision of the future, the suits worn by the comic book character Iron Man are more realistic than science fiction. Mr Keneally said Ghost Robotics’ technology in its robots could be used to develop prosthetics and exosuits, wearable robotic tools that augment human functionality.

While he said the company has yet to work on prosthetics and exosuits, Mr Kenneally said Ghost Robotics may explore such new tools in the future.

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