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Meet Sgt. Bark: Cape Cod Space Force’s new robot guard dog

Semi-autonomous canine enhances security at Cape Cod Space Force Station
Tech. Sgt. Jason Whittaker/102nd Intelligence Wing
DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution System)
Cape Cod Space Force Station received an unmanned ground vehicle in the form of a semi-autonomous "dog" meant to enhance their base security protocols on Feb. 24, 2023.

The Cape Cod Space Force Station is acquiring a new dog, although it’s not strictly canine.

The facility is set to receive a robot guard dog next summer. The machines are technically called quadruped unmanned ground vehicles.

The semi-autonomous device will be used to help security personnel at the station, which is located at the northern-most part of Joint Base Cape Cod.

Commanding officer of the 6th Space Warning Squadron Lieutenant Colonel Stewart Smith said the dog’s surveillance abilities will assist with perimeter checks.

“I would call it a force multiplier. It’s going to in many ways be like an additional member of the team, in that it’s an extra set of eyes. It’s essentially a camera on legs,” he said.

The squadron was able to see the dog in action at a live demonstration at the station in February.

Lt. Col. Smith said the robot also has audio capabilities so Space Force officials can listen and communicate through the device if needed.

“It’ll have a deterrent effect, we hope, on anyone who might be an unauthorized visitor and also make sure we’re able to spot those kinds of folks sooner than we otherwise might.”

Smith said team members have been brainstorming ideas for naming the dog and the top choice is currently Sgt. Bark.

Semi-autonomous canine enhances security at Cape Cod Space Force Station
Timothy Sandland/102nd Intelligence Wing
DVIDS (Defense Visual Information Distribution System)
The UGV returns to its DogHouse to recharge and prepare for another shift of patrolling the installation perimeter.

The dog’s estimated cost is roughly $500,000. Funding comes through a small business innovation research program through the Air Force’s AFWERX initiative.

The contract for the dog was awarded to Asylon Robotics. The units are made by Boston Dynamics with additional software and hardware installed by Asylon.

The Los Angeles Police Department was recently seeking approval to obtain one of the robots for surveillance on potentially dangerous calls. Some community members said the dog would militarize the force and diminish public trust.

The Cape Cod Space Force Station’s device will be used to monitor restricted areas at the facility.

The station will be just the second Space Force facility to get one of the devices. The other is at the Cape Canaveral station in Florida.

Joint Base Cape Cod’s Air Force Station was renamed the Cape Cod Space Force Station back in 2021. The squadron operates the Upgraded Early Warning Radar at the base, an updated version of PAVE PAWS.

Smith said the upgrade allows for data from the station to be provided to the U.S. missile defense community.

Brian Engles is an author, a Cape Cod local, and a producer for Morning Edition.