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US Air Force Testing Light Detection, Ranging on ‘Robot Dogs’

The US Air Force has started integrating light detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology on quadrupedal “robotic dogs” to increase their capability to see in tight spaces and produce digital images of their surroundings.

According to a Popular Science report, putting LIDAR technology on ground robots allows the military to glimpse what the unit sees and gives soldiers a way to map the interior of a building at a safe distance.

LIDAR emits light waves to measure the distance of an object or target based on the amount of time it takes for each pulse to bounce off surrounding objects and return to the sensor.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Javier Rodriguez explained that LIDAR-equipped robots will be useful for reconnaissance and disaster relief.

“LIDAR is the gold standard, because we can get information we couldn’t get from just pictures,” Air Force Rapid Airfield Damage Assessment System program manager Sean Cloud said in a video. “We can calculate how much material we need to repair based on the craters and fill volume.”

Upgrading Military Robot Dogs

Developed by Boston Dynamics, the four-legged robots can navigate rough terrain, deliver supplies in war zones, and help handlers examine explosives.

They also feature an arm to grasp objects and advanced sensors that detect radiological and nuclear materials. The units can also operate in extreme temperatures.

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