Dogs working in the U.S. military could in the future wear augmented reality (AR) goggles that enable soldiers to give them remote commands during operations, reports CNN.
Dogs are commonly deployed to sniff out explosives, hazardous materials or to help in rescues. The technology was developed under a project funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program, managed by the US Army Research Office, a part of the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Army Research Laboratory. The goggles are being developed by Command Sight, a Seattle-based company, with US Army research funding.
Special safety goggles already worn by military dogs would be retrofitted with live cameras and visual indicators so handlers can issue specific directions. The technology allows the handlers to see everything the dog can see and then provide specific commands using visual cues that show up in the dog’s line of vision.
“Augmented reality works differently for dogs than for humans,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, an Army Research Office senior scientist in a statement. “AR will be used to provide dogs with commands and cues; it’s not for the dog to interact with it like a human does. This new technology offers us a critical tool to better communicate with military working dogs.”
The technology is still just a prototype. The initial design is wired and requires a leash, but Command Sight said in an Army news release it’s working on a wireless model.
“We are still in the beginning research stages of applying this technology to dogs, but the results from our initial research are extremely promising,” said A.J. Peper, founder and CEO of Command Sight.
Peper added he had mostly been testing out the gear on his own Rottweiler, Mater.
“His ability to generalize from other training to working through the AR goggles has been incredible,” he said. “We still have a way to go from a basic science and development perspective before it will be ready for the wear and tear our military dogs will place on the units.”
The US Army said the goggles will all be custom-made, with each dog in the trial scanned in 3D so developers can understand where to position the optics and electrical components.