Image via Flickr Creative Commons
How's this for putting an entirely new spin on Come here, buddy!, or our old favorite, Fetch!: Mechanical engineers at Auburn University have created a system that allows humans to control dogs remotely, possibly using a TV-like remote control or even a smartphone.
The innovation in interspecies control will be detailed in an upcoming issue of International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control. It uses a control system (with vibration and tonal generation potential) that is made up of a microprocessor, wireless radio, GPS receiver, and an "attitude and heading reference system" that will yield autonomous guidance of the furry beasts. The radio functions can't help but reminds me of the Sirius XM logo.
System tests have had alarmingly successful rates, with obedience accuracy near 98 percent. Man's best friend appears to be turning into man's best servant.
The vibrations and tonal capabilities of the futuristic leash mean that the dog would be receiving commands instaneously, as if a human was shouting "Go get the paper!" in the dog's ear, when the owner may actually be miles away. While the moral obligations of this invention are yet to be discussed, and it's likely only a matter of time until PETA speaks up, the system could have far-reaching pragmatic capabilities besides, you know, chasing away pesky squirrels.
Dogs are already used for bomb sniffing, drug seizures, and other rescue missions. With this invention, these rescue missions may become safer for humans, and more perilous for the dogs, who could be controlled like drone. To take it a step further, this could also open up the pontential of other droned-out animals and creatures being used for human needs in the future.
Ornithological surveillance? Maybe. Elephants as weapons? Not an impossibility. The idea of using nature's wonders in a battle field context doesn't sound so far fetched anymore.
I may be getting ahead of myself, but the idea of controlling sentient creatures via remote is certainly terrifying, and not without a whole host of ethical unknowns. Realistically, this technology will probably be utilized by disabled individuals who could use its GPS capabilities to travel more efficiently with the aid of a seeing eye dog. Still, living, breathing animal drones sound like something out of a Terry Gilliam film, even if they may already be here.
Does your dog want a walk at 3AM while you're sleeping? There may be an app for that soon.