The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Search and Rescue Dog Deploys Robot Snake via Bark Control

It takes a very well trained dog to be comfortable running around with a giant robot snake strapped to its chest

2 min read
Search and Rescue Dog Deploys Robot Snake via Bark Control

Many animals, including some humans, seem to have an instinctual aversion to snakes. Many animals, including some humans, also seem to have an instinctual aversion to robots. Couple that with a (totally understandable) instinctual aversion to running around in disaster zones, and it's remarkable that this robosnake-deploying disaster dog even shows up for work in the mornings. 

Disaster areas offer some of the trickiest types of terrain for anyone (robots or humans) to safely navigate. Quadrupeds are one of the most adaptable platforms in situations like these, which is one reason why we use trained dogs to search for earthquake survivors. Problem is, while dogs are great at getting around over the top of rubble and finding places where humans might be buried, they're too big to get down into nooks and crannies, and even if they could fit down in there, for their sake you probably wouldn't want to send them.

This kind of dangerous work is just exactly what robots are around for, and by giving them rides on trained disaster dogs, they can get exactly where they need to go quickly and safely. Watch a dog deploying a tethered snake robot in a disaster training exercise in the video below:

Carnegie Mellon University's Biorobotics Lab teamed up with Ryerson University's Network-Centric Applied Research Team (NCART) Lab and a (very well trained) dog named Freitag for this demo. While Freitag was lucky enough to be running around with a robot snake this time, the system can be adapted to deploy just about anything, and apparently, deployment is controlled by the dog: whenever it starts to bark (which it does when it smells a human), the robot jumps out of the dog's chest-pack and starts exploring. Cool!

For more information on the CARD (Canine Assisted Robot Deployment) system, you can check out a 2010 paper on IEEE Xplore at the link below.

[ Canine Assisted Robot Deployment for Urban Search and Rescue ] via [ CMU ]

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less