- The U.S. Army has created augmented reality goggles for dogs.
- The goggles allow trainers to give commands to military working dogs from safety.
- Dogs can be guided to specific spots within their field of view, such as locations of explosives or other dangerous objects.
The U.S. Army’s military working dogs are entering augmented reality, thanks to the service’s investment in a company developing AR goggles for canines.
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The goggles allow Army dog handlers to identify points of interest within a dog’s field of view without exposing the handler to hostile fire. Feedback from early demonstrations “could fundamentally change how military canines are deployed in the future,” according to an Army press release.
Command Sight, a small company whose goal is to provide AR goggles for military working dogs, developed the technology. The goggles enable dog handlers to give instructions to the dogs that are inserted into their line of sight, such as the location of a possible explosives cache or enemy troops. In return, the handler can see everything the dog sees via a camera mounted in the dog’s goggles.
Previously, Army handlers needed to use hand signals or lasers to direct dogs to locations of interest. This, however could expose the handlers to enemy fire. Other systems, such as walkie-talkies, could lead to confusion. Augmented reality allows the handler to digitally highlight objects for the dog’s attention, eliminating a source of confusion.
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Military working dogs are used for a variety of roles, from base security to bomb detection and even chasing down enemy fighters in the field. In 2011, a U.S. Navy special warfare working dog named Cairo participated in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. These dogs can experience significant threats to their own lives: In 2019, a Belgian Malinois member of Delta Force named Conan was injured during a mission to kill or capture ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Conan survived.
Researchers believe they're two years from a fully working prototype. The current system uses Rex Specs, protective goggles already in service with the military’s working dogs. The system also uses wires, though the working version will be wireless. The research was funded by the Army Research Office, a part of the Army Research Laboratory.
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