US Army dogs get AR goggle prototype for safer scouting missions

Brittany A. Roston - Oct 7, 2020, 3:21pm CDT
US Army dogs get AR goggle prototype for safer scouting missions

The United States Army Research Laboratory’s Research Office has provided funds under the Small Business Innovation Program to develop prototype AR goggles for dogs. The project aims to provide technology that makes for safer canine scouting missions by enabling human handlers to better communicate with their dogs remotely. Among other things, the goggles enable humans to see exactly what the dog is seeing.

The US Army commonly uses working dogs for a variety of tasks, not the least of which is scouting out locations for potentially hazardous materials and bombs. Human handlers must direct the dogs in these tasks, putting themselves at risk as well — and that’s where the AR goggles come in. These goggles are designed to fit on the dog’s face, providing visual directions for the dog to follow, as well as a live view of what the dog is seeing.

Officials explain on the US Army website that the prototype, which was developed by a company called Command Sight, may fundamentally change the way humans and dogs communicate by leveraging the technology and combining it with an understanding of how dogs think and see. As shown in the image above, the present prototype has wires, but a wireless version will be developed for independent use.

Dr. AJ Peper, the founder of Command Sight, said:

We are still in the beginning research stages of applying this technology to dogs, but the results from our initial research are extremely promising. 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.

The AR goggles — or a technology similar to them — may one day replace laser pointers and hand signals as the primary way to communicate with working military dogs. The biggest benefit is that human handlers will be able to command the dog remotely, safe out of sight of potential threats. The Army points out that its dogs are already used to wearing goggles, so the transition to this technology won’t be too burdensome for the animals.

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