It’s no secret that most dogs love a good chase.
And now, researchers in Japan are harnessing this trait to remotely control the animals without the use of invasive technology.
Footage of recent experiments with the system shows how a dog can be guided toward an object of interest, and even navigate obstacles, simply by having it follow a dot of light.
Scroll down for video
A video shared to YouTube shows exactly how the new system works; the dog (in this case a poodle) is fitted with a vest that has ‘on-suit light sources,’ which shine on the ground in the direction it should go
According to the team at Tohoku University, the new system allows for ‘canine motion control.’
A video shared to YouTube shows exactly how it works; the dog (in this case a poodle) is fitted with a vest that has ‘on-suit light sources,’ which shine on the ground in the direction it should go.
Essentially, this means the vest is equipped with a handful of flashlights.
The suit also carries a camera that shows the handler a view from the dog’s perspective, allowing the person in charge to see what the dog is seeing as it navigates the space.
While it might seem simple, the footage shows just how well this can work to lead a dog through a complex environment without a human by its side.
In the video, the poodle follows the changing dots of light around two obstacles to get to object “A.”
And, when it approaches the object to inspect, the handler will get a clear view, too.
According to the researchers, this was done all by using the remote-controlled system.
‘The dog moved between the desks and arrived at target location by following the light stimulation specified by operator,’ the team says.
The suit also carries a camera that shows the handler a view from the dog’s perspective, allowing the person in charge to see what the dog is seeing as it navigates the space (top right)
Footage of recent experiments with the system show how a dog can be guided toward an object of interest, and even navigate objects, simply by following a dot of light
WHAT GIVES DOGS THEIR ULTRA-SENSITIVE SENSE OF SMELL?
The slimy surface of a canine nose is behind their sophisticated sense of smell.
Damp mucus on a dog’s nose ‘pre-sorts’ smells by blocking the passage of some odour particles more than others, the team reports.
Brent Craven, from Pennsylvania State University and team studied MRI images of a dog’s nasal passages to see how air travelled through them.
They found that different types of molecules were picked up by nerve cells at different points along the airways.
Dogs have many more nerve cells in their nasal passages than people and a wider variety of receptors that pick up different chemicals.
This allows them to be trained to sniff out certain odours – such as those in USB drives.
This type of approach could help to improve the efficiency of dogs used in difficult environments.
While search and rescue dogs may be able to fit through small spaces to access areas a human handler cannot, it’s currently difficult to guide them beyond this point.
That’s where the light-based system, or something of similar design, could come into play.