They definitely have their "personality". But I've gotten some hall walkers to work pretty well. One thing I noticed is that if you have a group, they keep stumbling into each other and they'll get "stuck". So try to separate your group individuals as much as possible.
I have 3 groups of federation types and they all have to walk down the same "platform"... so as they get closer to the chokepoints they start to get stuck (on each other) and some of them leap over the group to bypass the tangle. The end result is a mess but I keep thinking there must be some way to compensate for it.
I've found that they will randomly hang up (low chance) and on a second play through be absolutely fine.
I did find that on some maps, patrol will not work at all. Some maps, only certain areas are defective and patrol will work in other parts of it. So my guess is, their pathing AI and flaws in their land maps are causing it. I pulled a mission of mine this morning because I got tired of watching the mobs fall under the world and then teleport back.
I use them just not to make circuits but to get a group from point a to b. It is a good way to believably start combat. What group of enemies is conveniently arrive right where you are all the time. In one of my missions I have a group spawn with a patrol that walks them right to where you'll be. Granted if you were not there they would turn around, but it is my mission and you will be there.
I'm currently using them to simulate a boarding action. I have a map with an airlock leading from one ship to another. When a trigger is hit, the airlock opens and mobs from inside one ship spawn and run into the other ship to fight the player and some friendly mobs. So far its working quite well even in preview (except that I made the airlock too narrow and some of the big Tholian mobs are getting stuck, kinda comical actually).
If you want to see a cool use of patrols in space, check out CaptPFDennis' new mission. Not published yet as he keeps finding more stuff to do, but I've tested an early version and its cool stuff.
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I believe it was stated that they only work properly once the mission has been published.
Even then some don't start patrolling as they should. I also had to remove a couple patrols because they started too far from the player, and it was pointless to tell the player where the patrol was as it's was intended to be surprise to the player.
Patrols are useful only when they work, which they don't reliably do.