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US Space Force tests robot dogs to patrol Cape Canaveral

Two Ghost Robotics Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Q-UGVs) pose for a picture at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 28, 2022.
Two Ghost Robotics Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicles (Q-UGVs) pose for a picture at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022. (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Samuel Becker)

Mankind's new best friend is coming to the U.S. Space Force. 

The Space Force has conducted a demonstration using dog-like quadruped unmanned ground vehicles (Q-UGVs) for security patrols and other repetitive tasks. The demonstration used at least two Vision 60 Q-UGVs, or "robot dogs," built by Ghost Robotics and took place at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on July 27 and 28.

According to a statement (opens in new tab) from the Department of Defense, Space Launch Delta 45 will use the robot dogs for "damage assessments and patrol to save significant man hours." The unit is responsible for all space launch operations from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral. 

Related: US Space Force establishes new unit to track 'threats in orbit' 

Images from the demonstration show personnel operating the robots with a hand controller inside a hangar. The Ghost Robotics Vision 60 Q-UGVs can be equipped with a wide variety of optical and acoustic sensors, enabling them to serve as automated "eyes and ears" around sensitive installations such as a Space Force base. The robots can be operated either autonomously or by a human controller and can even respond to voice commands.

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew Cuccia, chief innovation officer, operates a Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) with a handheld controller at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew Cuccia, chief innovation officer, operates a Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) with a handheld controller at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Samuel Becker)

The dog-like robots can also serve as miniaturized communications nodes, carrying antennas to quickly extend networks beyond existing infrastructure or in locations where no such infrastructure exists.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022.

A Ghost Robotics, Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is operated during a demo for 45th Security Forces Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Fla., July 28, 2022. (Image credit: U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Samuel Becker)

The robots have been previously tested by the U.S. Air Force for perimeter defense tasks and as part of a large test of the service's Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) data-sharing network. In that 2020 test, robot dogs at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada "provided real-time strike targeting data to USAF operators" in Florida using Starlink satellite links, then-CEO of Ghost Robotics Jiren Parikh told The War Zone (opens in new tab).

The Ghost Robotics Q-UGVs are designed to withstand water and weather, and were recently demonstrated with a tail-like payload enabling them to travel underwater (opens in new tab).

Aside from their military applications, the robot dogs are also being eyed for uses in emergency management, public safety and industrial inspection.

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Brett Tingley
Editor, Space.com

Brett is a science and technology journalist who is curious about emerging concepts in spaceflight and aerospace, alternative launch concepts, anti-satellite technologies, and uncrewed systems. Brett's work has appeared on The War Zone at TheDrive.com, Popular Science, the History Channel, Science Discovery, and more. Brett has English degrees from Clemson University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. In his free time, Brett is a working musician, a hobbyist electronics engineer and cosplayer, an avid LEGO fan, and enjoys hiking and camping throughout the Appalachian Mountains with his wife and two children.