The prospect of taking the dog for a walk can be a nightmare for some people, but what if you were able to take the dog for a walk without having to get off the couch?
Jeff Miller and David Bevly of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Auburn University have developed just such a device. Made up of a specially-designed harness with a built-in control suite, wireless radio, and GPS receiver – it allows handlers to guide dogs remotely using commands based on auditory and tactile stimuli.
The software behind the system is trained in the canine’s thought processes, which means it takes the animal’s natural inclinations into account. Handlers then, have to be familiar with their dogs first. It would be difficult for a stranger to issue hard commands and expect results.
In trials, the computer issued correct commands 99 percent of the time, and a trained yellow lab followed those commands accurately 80 percent of the time.
While unlikely to actually be useful for the everyday dog owner, there are a whole host of law enforcement, first responder, and military applications for the device. It allows dogs to operate in areas that are too dangerous for humans, without their handler having to maintain a line-of-sight, something that also exposes them to danger.
The device will also allow data to be collected about different dogs and how they respond to situations, tasks, and commands. This could make it easier to identify dogs who would excel in bomb detection vs drug detection for example, reducing the likelihood for errors to occur, and dogs to be put in overly dangerous situations.