Imagine this: your dog is scratching at the front door, wanting to go for a walk. But you're tired or it's raining outside and you're just not interested. What's a dog owner to do? Two scientists at Auburn University have the solution: stay on your couch and use a remote control to walk your dog. No, really. Jeff Miller and David Bevly of the university's Department of Mechanical Engineering have devised a system that will allow you to command your pooch without ever needing to leave the house.
This new system, as described in an upcoming issue of the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control, uses a wearable doggie suit that comes equipped with a microprocessor, wireless radio, and GPS receiver. The dog is trained to respond to commands that consist of a variety of vibrations and tones that come through the suit via a remote control (like a smartphone). It might sound crazy, but researchers are claiming an obedience success rate with this system of over 98%. Not only is this the perfect tool for the lazy dog owner, but it could also be useful for finding missing persons, searching for disaster victims, and uncovering contraband. This technology could also provide additional support to the disabled who own dogs as support animals, or it could even come in handy in situations where it is impossible to give a dog verbal commands, such as in a noisy environment.
Although it may seem like we're using technology to enslave man's best friend, dogs have already proven they are good subjects for such systems, being predisposed to accept commands and intelligently respond to them. In other words, this probably would never work on a cat, but we'd definitely like to see someone try. Again.