AT&T FirstNet unleashes robotic dogs for emergency services
AT&T is releasing robotic hounds from Ghost Robotics as part of the service provider's FirstNet emergency responder service.
In a blog, AT&T VP Lance Spencer explained that the robotic dogs will be connected to AT&T's network and deployed for public safety, defense, federal and state agencies, local police and fire departments, and commercial customers.
"Network-connected robotic dogs can deliver a broad range of IoT use cases, including many that have previously required putting personnel in dangerous situations," explained Spencer. AT&T is also utilizing its patented Geocast service for beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operational command and control, so robotic dog operators can deploy the dogs remotely.
Allen Beadel, Sr., drone pilot for AT&T, said in a video that AT&T has been using robotic dogs for over a year and is now launching the service for government, military, law enforcement agencies and more.
"The key to any successful remotely controlled device is secure, reliable communications," said Beadel.
The IoT use cases where the robotic dogs will be deployed include "disaster response and recovery, facilities surveillance and security operations," said Spencer. The dogs can also perform search and rescue missions in areas that could be dangerous to humans; detect explosives, chemical leaks and radiation; and investigate mines and high-voltage equipment.
The dogs can run up to 7 miles per hour on flat terrain, according to Fox Weather, which is faster than all of Light Reading's editors, aside from Mike Dano and Iain Morris, who are try-hards.
Sensors can be attached to a robot dog for autonomous operations, and the robots can also be equipped with drones that launch from and land on the dogs' backs while they're moving. The dogs are also able to operate in a variety of terrains and swim underwater at a depth of up to a meter for 30 minutes.
The FirstNet dogs, equipped with wireless cameras, are already in use with the military. For example, the Air Force at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida is utilizing the robotic dogs for patrolling the flight line and base perimeter and providing real-time video feeds and data to base personnel. AT&T's Spencer said the dogs could be used in similar use cases to patrol warehouse perimeters or fence lines.
The use of robotic dogs to inspect commercial equipment is a potentially lucrative market. "The global inspection robots market generated $940.0 million in 2020, and is expected to reach $13.94 billion by 2030, registering a CAGR of 30.9% from 2021 to 2030," according to Allied Market Research.
Other robotic dogs are also being tested for emergency service use cases. For example, Ontario Power Generation and Ontario Tech University are testing the Boston Dynamics Spot robot dog for nuclear power safety.
"The [Spot] robot can be sent on autonomous missions, conduct visual inspections, and even act as a first responding firefighter in the event of an emergency," according to Mashable.
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— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading