AR commands will allow handlers to remain out of sight during combat.
Earlier this week the United States Army Research Laboratory revealed a groundbreaking new project that could change the way military working dogs (aka war dogs) are deployed on the battlefield.
Present in all branches of the United States Military, these highly-trained canines are used for everything from attacks and explosive detection to patrol, search and rescue, and tracking. Often times, this involves a human handler providing commands using hand gestures or light devices such as laser pointers. Unfortunately, these methods can often expose the operator to numerous dangers while out in the field.
Command Sight, a Seattle-based company specializing in human to animal communication, is looking to modernize these tactical conversations using AR technology designed specifically for trained K9s. Each dog receives a 3D scan which is used to create a personalized AR headset with perfectly placed optics. This headset provides the animals with visual cues, allowing the operator to see exactly what their partner sees and issue commands from a secure position.
“Augmented reality works differently for dogs than for humans,” said Dr. Stephen Lee, an ARO senior scientist, according to Army.Mil. “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.”
“We are still in the beginning research stages of applying this technology to dogs, but the results from our initial research are extremely promising,” added Dr. A.J. Peper, Founder of Command Sight. “Much of the research to date has been conducted with my rottweiler, Mater. His ability to generalize from other training to working through the AR goggles has been incredible. 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.”
Managed by the Army Research Office and funded by the Small Business Innovation Research program, the project is still in its early stages according to Command Sight. The team just recently completed Phase 1 of the SBIR and has already been confirmed for Phase 2 with funding from the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office. This additional support will go towards the development of prototype AR headsets for military dogs serving in the Navy Special Forces.
According to the Army.Mil, the next two years of the project will be dedicated to the development of a “production-level wireless product.”
Image Credit: US Army