AIR FORCE NEWS
Air Force Testing Counter-Shooter Tech on Bases
Air Force photo
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the U.S. government has passed new laws in an effort to prevent mass shootings, the Air Force is piloting a system that combines artificial intelligence and drone technology to stop active shooters on military installations.
The Drone-Robot Enabled Active Shooter Deterrence system, developed by Philadelphia-based ZeroEyes, overlays the company’s existing AI gun-detection software on the security camera system at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. Then, it uses drones or robots to contain a potential shooter.
“The entire idea behind the platform is being able to take a robot and ultimately impede, disorient an active threat on an installation before they can do any more damage,” said JT Wilkins, senior vice president of government solutions at the company.
Once deployed in response to a threat, the drone or robotic dog would use sirens, strobes or other non-physical means of disrupting the shooter.
In 85 percent of cases, a weapon is exposed and visible for 2 to 30 minutes prior to the first shots being fired, Wilkins said. “So that’s ultimately where we want to be able to get these detections out and be able to send a robot to potentially interdict while we’re getting up a squad car from one side of the base to the other.”
While the system uses AI and drone technology, it is not fully autonomous. “You know that every AI is going to throw false positives, and that’s why we put a human reviewer in there to make sure that we can mitigate some of that,” he said.
The reviewer will launch the robot dog or other countermeasure only once they have verified the threat. The system is not designed to replace security personnel, but be a force multiplier, Wilkins added.
The pilot will continue over a 15-month period through a $750,000 direct-to-phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from AFWERX, the service’s technology accelerator. ZeroEyes and the Air Force are also testing the AI gun-detection software — without the robotic interdiction system — at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, through a Commercial Solutions Opening contract.
ZeroEyes has more than 50 commercial clients, and Wilkins said that the company expects both government and private-sector customers to adopt the robotic dog anti-shooter technology once it is fully developed and tested.