September 3, 2013
Remote Controlled Canines, A Dog Handler’s Best Friend
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Canines are already powerful weapons against drug smugglers and natural disasters, but man's best friend is about to get a little more help. Scientists writing in the International Journal of Modeling, Identification and Control say they have created a way for humans to control a dog using a remote control.
Researchers said that preliminary tests in both structured and non-structured environments show obedience accuracy of up to almost 98 percent. They envision this device being particularly useful in search and rescue situations where dogs are able to go into areas that are too narrow or dangerous for humans.
"The ability to autonomously control a canine has far reaching [implications]," the team wrote in the journal.
Dogs have a much more powerful and accurate nose than humans, and are able to sniff out drugs and bombs as well as trapped or unconscious people. The team said that their device could be used in environments where a dog handler may not be able to go, or even a noisy place where the dog's hearing is compromised, and it is unable to hear the commands.
Researchers said working dogs can be trained to respond "virtually flawlessly" to remote control tones and vibrations as if they were immediate commands from a human handler. They said a similar system using haptic technology - which uses various stimuli to take advantage of the sense of touch - could be created to help out emergency responders in a variety of situations, such as searching through a collapsed or burning building. This haptic feedback system could even be used to help assist visually impaired people with navigation.
In June another group of scientists developed a Kickstarter project to create the world's first commercially available "Insect Cyborg." This project enabled users to control a cockroach by using an app available on an iPhone. Essentially, the RoboRoach overrides a cockroach's antennae system and allows a user to tell the running roach to go left or right. Eventually the cockroach is able to defeat the override device, but it nonetheless provides an excellent example of what a powerful duo technology and neuroscience can be.