Originally published September 10 2013
Scientists develop technology to turn the family dog into an obedient robot
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Just when you thought that "man's best friend" couldn't get any better or any more loyal, here comes "science" with a better idea.
Scientists at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama think that maybe you, as a dog owner, are tired of having your pet roll over, shake, take long walks with you or eat every morsel of food you happen to drop on the floor. As a result, they are working to develop a way to "command your dog with a remote control, or even via your smart phone...or even without hands."
A press release by the university says that Jeff Miller and David Bevly of Auburn "have devised just such a system and describe details in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control."
Dogs are the 'most accurate, sensitive' detection systems
"The device based on a control suite with a microprocessor, wireless radio, GPS receiver, and an attitude and heading reference system provides autonomous guidance of the canine using an embedded command module with vibration and tone generation capabilities. Tests in a structure and non-structured environment show obedience accuracy up to almost 98%. It sounds like a boon for the lazy dog owner," the release says.
Hmmm. Well, believe it or not, there is a serious side to the development of this technology, which allows dogs to receive commands remotely and for them to actually consistently respond to such remote commands. The scientists point out that dogs remain "the most accurate and sensitive mobile detection system for hidden explosives, people trapped after earthquakes and other disasters and in sniffing out drugs." But the dog handler in those kinds of environments may not be able to safely access all the places that the dog can reach.
In addition, noisy environments or places where the dog's hearing is impaired add difficult challenges when the necessary verbal commands given by human handlers are impossible to relay.
As such, the Auburn team "has demonstrated that a search & rescue or other working dog can be trained to respond 'virtually flawlessly' to remote control tones and vibrations as if they were immediate commands from a human handler," says the release.
Adds the team: "The ability to autonomously control a canine is far-reaching."
They also note that similar systems could be extended to a variety of uses and applications that would allow emergency responders and search teams to be guided remotely in and through hazardous areas and situations like a collapsing building or a burning structure or for a haptic feedback GPS system to help navigate those who are visually impaired.
We have the technology...to make the dog better
Jason Bittle of Slate writes that such a device might not be all that for every dog owner:
Simply controlling the mutt through beeps and buzzes would be one thing, and you can probably imagine many scenarios where a remote control canine would be useful. Like when a certain Pomeranian I know starts eating her own poop. But remote control wouldn't be very useful once the dog traveled beyond the handler's line of sight.
But, he goes onto say, that's where the autonomy of the system would come into play. Still, using live animals will always have "drawbacks," though dogs are already used to obeying common commands that would eventually be provided to them remotely.
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