The Loh Down On Science

Helping rescue dogs reach their full potential

Do you need a remote control for your ... dog?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

In search-and-rescue operations, dogs are critical.  They can be taught to smell or hear victims under rubble.   And they can go where humans can’t reach!

But if a dog is out of earshot?  Or out of sight?  It’s hard to give commands.

Enter mechanical engineers—and dog lovers—from Alabama's Auburn University.  They’ve developed a way to guide dogs remotely!

First, trainers taught rescue dogs to respond to tones and vibrations.  Hear this tone, move  left.  Hear that tone, STOP.

The engineers outfitted the dogs with instrument packs.  A wireless radio.  A microprocessor. Movement and location sensors.  A device to generate tones or vibrations.

From a command post, the researchers received information on the dog’s whereabouts. They could then relay tones or vibrations back to the dog, telling it where to move. 

In a test, the dogs responded to specific commands accurately ninety-eight percent of the time.

The other two percent?   Channel surfing.  Oh, Fido, not those cat videos again!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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