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Bouncer Bot lends robotic hand to defenders

Airman 1st Class Ceara Larson, 66th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, checks a visitor’s identification with Bouncer Bot at the Visitor Control Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Aug. 20. Bouncer Bot, a remote process automation software application, can check base visitors’ credentials against national crime databases in a matter of seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

Airman 1st Class Ceara Larson, 66th Security Forces Squadron entry controller, checks a visitor’s identification with Bouncer Bot at the Visitor Control Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., Aug. 20. Bouncer Bot, a remote process automation software application, can check base visitors’ credentials against national crime databases in a matter of seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Linda LaBonte Britt)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – A robotic workhorse has been assisting the 66th Security Forces Squadron here during the past month.

Bouncer Bot, a remote process automated robot software, has been assisting Hanscom defenders at the Visitor Control Center complete background security checks on guests entering the installation.

“We process a lot of background information in our daily operations, and we felt the VCC would be the perfect place to bring the bot in,” said Staff Sgt. Martin Garland, 66 SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of access, visitors and community policing, who explained the bot was dubbed “bouncer” for its role in granting, and in some cases denying, base access.

Once integrated into the computer system, the bots are able to mimic behaviors from the human user, and then implement the algorithms to complete repetitive tasks, freeing the user to move onto other projects.

“The software itself has video recording capability so the bot watches over and mimics the action and then codes itself to go,” said James Newbrough, Communications and Information Division (SC) Process Improvement practitioner here. 

In the past, defenders working at the VCC would have to manually enter names, license numbers and dates of birth against national crime databases before granting access to base guests. Garland said assisting one customer could take an average of five minutes.

“Now, we can scan the customers' license, and we tell the bot to ‘go,’” he said. “It automatically pulls the information and can complete the full background check in a matter of seconds.”

Garland said the bot has decreased staff hours for background checks by about 75 percent, but the biggest plus has been eliminating human error in the process.

“Entering all of someone’s information by hand was time consuming, but also left a margin for error,” said Garland. “We know the Bouncer Bot will pull the information without typos or mistakes, and we know that there’s no chance the wrong people can get onto the installation.”

The bot is currently compatible with Massachusetts state identification, but officials say they plan to expand the bot’s capabilities to other state credentials. Bouncer Bot does not save any personally identifiable information scanned during a background check.

Air Force officials named RPA a 2020 Air Force Spark Tank selectee earlier this year. The 66 SFS and SC collaboration of Bouncer Bot is currently competing in two innovation competitions, but Garland said it’s already a winner.

“Our customers are already commenting on how quick the process has become,” said Garland. “The bot has allowed us to exercise minimal manning with maximum productivity.”