Scientists develop a "remote control" system for dogs


September 5, 2013

Major the dog, suited up with the control system

Major the dog, suited up with the control system

Image Gallery (3 images)

Trained dogs can do a lot of things – they can locate victims at disaster sites, sniff out drugs or explosives, and subdue criminals. One thing that they can’t do in all situations, however, is hear commands made by their handlers. That’s why scientists at Alabama’s Auburn University have created a control system to guide them.

Developed by mechanical engineers Jeff Miller and David Bevly, the setup consists of a microprocessor, wireless radio, GPS receiver, and an attitude and heading reference system – all of which are mounted on a pack worn by the dog. It also contains a command module that delivers both vibrational and audio tone cues, to which the dog has previously been trained to respond.

In tests conducted in structured and unstructured environments, dogs using the system reportedly showed an overall obedience accuracy rate of nearly 87 percent.

The system operates autonomously, guiding dogs to pre-established GPS waypoints – although it could presumably also be used to relay commands sent by a human user in real time. It’s intended for use in situations in which a dog’s handler is unable to physically accompany the animal, or where loud noises make it impossible for the dog to hear verbal commands.

Down the road, Miller and Bevly hope that the technology could also be used to direct human first responders in hazardous environments, or to guide the visually impaired.

For situations in which a dog (or person) is just too big, other recent projects have successfully steered turtles and cockroaches by remote control.

Source: Inderscience Publishers

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth
8 Comments yeah an analogue one from the 1970's

Gary McMurray

Only 87 per cent? You could do as well as that by training a dog to use VR goggles! I've had fair success just by making a small harness for a couple of 9V batteries and a collar for the receiver part of a baby monitor and one of those tiny bookshelf security cameras to see what Fido sees - "Left Fido" "Right Fido" "Come back Fido" - The pictured setup looks pretty bulky at present. Still, they all work OK till a pussy cat runs into shot though.

The Skud

This is sorta creepy. It feels as if its taking the dogs freedom away. Makes it look stupid.

Elijah Sherv

Wouldn't it be easier to just attach a smart phone to the collar and digitally stabilize the streaming video and give the dogs voice commands?


Dogs like training not sure they will like this?!

... something simpler can be found at it's an iPhone App that you program with your or someone voice or a sound.


Dogs, turtles and cockroaches perhaps, but this would never work with my cat unless it provided a soothing back scratch and released a chewy treat with every command! Seriously though, a small audio receiver with a Bluetooth headset and chinstrap would accept commands from cell phones or even walkie-talkies in remote areas and even allow the dog to respond, if trained to bark when locating a target. If the target is human, they could then use the headset to communicate with a rescue team.


Strap an FRS and a wireless video monitor camera to the dog's harness and you're good to go for a lot less money.

Dig into older GM vehicles with OnStar (the ones with analog Motorola bagphone modules in the system) and pluck out the GPS module. With a few bucks in wireless gear and a microcontroller you can have the GPS function too. Could skip all the wireless and use a Raspberry Pi or Beagle Bone Black to read the GPS data, run the navigation software and issue the pre-recorded voice commands.

Anyone halfway decent at hardware hacking could put all that together into a pack smaller and less cumbersome than what's shown in the pictures.

Gregg Eshelman

This is sick. It's only a step away from a truly evil variant. Dogs give such unconditional love. Their freedom and well-being should be a priority, not finding new "clever" ways to control them. Anyone supporting this type of thing should be imprisoned.

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