back to article What's that, Lt Lassie? Three terrorists have fallen down a well? Strap on these AR goggles and we'll find 'em

The US Army will give military dogs augmented-reality goggles and walkie-talkies to work out whether the technology can help them better assist soldiers on the battlefield. Canines from the Navy Special Forces will don specially fitted funky-looking techno-specs designed to guide them to a location by making indicators appear …

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    1. beep54

      Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

      Since this would be used, apparently, to mainly give instructions to the dog, its sense of sight is beside the point. This is pretty neat and possibly worthy of the best possible Ignobel Award

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

        Dogs need to be close to get visual cues and you can perfectly train them to respond to sounds and specific orders. Adding the VR just seems like a waste of money. The walkie-talkies alone would be more than enough. Not to mention how short lasting support for VR devices is. In five years will these things still have tech support?

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

          "In five years will these things still have tech support?"

          Is that five dog years or five human years?

          1. First Light Silver badge

            Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

            Don't forget the new dog age formula, not human:dog = 1:7 but 16 x ln(dog's age) + 31

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

              Also don't forget that those numbers don't really work. Dogs are typically capable of breeding in their first year (roughly teenage in human terms), get their adult bone and musculature after two years (roughly early 20s in human terms), and settle down into adulthood at around three (roughly 25ish in human terms). After that, its a slide into middle-age & old-age according to the typical lifespan of the breed in question (typically, the smaller the dog, the older they live).

              Trying to fit a one-size fits all formula to all dawgs is a fool's errand.

        2. jake Silver badge

          Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

          "Dogs need to be close to get visual cues"

          My smooth collie responds to visual cues quite nicely out to several hundred yards when moving sheep around. At that distance, people can't see what I'm asking the dawg to do, but she sure can!

          Likewise, most of our sighthounds can pick my Wife out of a crowd at a county fair from half a kilometer away (I've made quite a bit of money betting people this is possible ... In the old days, we used the quarter mile dragstrip out at Fremont).

        3. jake Silver badge

          Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

          "In five years will these things still have tech support?"

          If it's useful to the US military, yes, it will. Consider, for example, all of the equipment that goes into keeping the B-52 in the air. Or the the service life of the M1911.

        4. Cuddles Silver badge

          Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

          "Dogs need to be close to get visual cues"

          And the goggles are close. That's the whole point. Visual instructions appear in the dog's vision via the goggles (just simple things like following a dot), and so the handler can give orders such as showing which way to walk or what to investigate without an actual person needing to be nearby.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

        "its sense of sight is beside the point."

        Nah. Blinking light on the right side of the field of view means turn right, left side means turn left. The further to the left or right, the sharper the turn. Four blinking lights in a square straight ahead means STOP. A circle means backup. Three/four lights in a line means return to base.

        That's a basic start ... I'm fairly certain I could train one of my dogs to properly respond to the above in a short weekend. The hard part would be convincing them that the head-gear was a good idea.

    2. Chris G Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

      If dog eyesight is not that good, it may be best not to teach military dogs to fetch a ball.

      It could make grenade throwing counter productive if they can't tell the difference.

    3. jake Silver badge

      Re: A dog sight is worse than a human

      A dog's eyes are NOT inferior to the eyes of humans. In fact, for matters that are important for canid survival, a dog's eyes are quite superior to those of humans ... with the caveat that Human breeding has completely fucked up the eyes for the brachycephalic variations. Likewise, some breeds are genetically prone to myopia (I'm squinting at YOU, Rotties!) thanks to humans not breeding them away from that trait.

  2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    In another experiment

    Marines have been fitted with AR goggles allowing highly trained border collies to control them from a safe position.

    They run around the battlefield happily carrying heavy loads and are easily trained by offering them treats such as crayons - said the lead collie

    1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C

      Re: In another experiment

      You are (or were) a Para and I claim my five pounds.

      (+1 from my ex-Para father BTW)

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. don't you hate it when you lose your account

      Re: In another experiment

      Revenge of the sheep dog

    3. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: In another experiment

      As an ex-infantry man, that made me laugh, a lot.

      We always found good candidates for the paras, could pull their socks on or scratch an ankle without bending, marines were similar but got wet more often.

      I hope radio controlled dogs are going to get shoulder mounted lasers.

    4. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

      Re: In another experiment

      Unfortunately, my border collie Kelynn has read this and now wants to join up. I just don't think she's ready for it yet.

  3. Paul Herber Silver badge

    Techno-specs, ex-NASA, fantastic for walkie-talkies!

  4. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Joke

    Zeus + Apollo

    Managed perfectly well without any AR goggles or walkie talkies for Higgins to direct them to find and bring Magnum in

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is wrong

    As a human I value human lives above other animals, but I still value those other animals. Life is life, and I get that humans kill for survival (or even food) but this is different.

    The idea of deliberately walking another life form into possible death while I sit safely behind a wall, saying good doggy and telling the poor thing everything is alright, is cowardly and evil.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: This is wrong

      Says the AC who will never actually have to put that philosophy to the test.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: This is wrong

      There may well be situations that dangerous for humans but fairly safe for dogs, due to their speed and low silhouette. There may also be situations that become safer for a dog if it is not tied to the immediate vicinity of a slow-moving human. Then of course there are situations that aren't immediately risky, and this system allows a dog to cover a larger area in less time - again, by not being tied to a slow biped.

      Dogs and other animals, such as horses and pigeons, have been used in wars, and their handlers don't treat their lives lightly.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How long before they start selling these to the public and use it to serve ads to dogs?

  7. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Covid sniff

    I'm a cat person but I was very impressed that dogs have been trained to sniff out Covid 19. Along with many other diseases such as cancer etc.

    Cats can sense those diseases too, they just won't alert you. They already have an internal visual overlay that identify birds, mice, fish, cat treats, cat food, and future cat food - your dead face.

    1. beep54
      Angel

      Re: Covid sniff

      An interesting thing is that cats will ignore your dead body while dogs will happily chow down on your corpse once they figure out that you're actually dead. So there's that.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Covid sniff

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/reclusive-woman-eaten-pet-cats-body-lay-undiscovered-home-8759326.html

        Pretty sure cats will eat a corpse as well...

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Covid sniff

          Cats are a lot fussier about what they eat compared to dogs, they will expect you to feed them something decent even if you're dead.

          After no food for a bit and real hunger sets in then they will probably start on a corpse.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: Covid sniff

      They already have an internal visual overlay that identify...

      ...cardboard boxes.

      I still wonder how those boxes fit in the evolution of the cat.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Covid sniff

        "I still wonder how those boxes fit in the evolution of the cat."

        Wrong way around ... boxes don't fit into cats, rather cats fit into boxes. Any fule no that.

        1. BebopWeBop

          Re: Covid sniff

          They like bags as well.

        2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Covid sniff

          Both ways: cat fits into box and box, piece by piece, fits into cat.

          To be fair, she only tears it apart and leaves shredded cardboard on the floor.

          But it makes me wonder if the whole covid-19 thing has been organised by our feline overladies: make us stay home, make us order more stuff in cardboard boxes.

  8. veti Silver badge

    I looked up Command Sight

    Interesting website they have. Your options are: subscribe, email them, or go away.

    Nothing about the company, where it's based, what it does or - most importantly - who its directors or owners are. Not a word about research or career opportunities. No resources for press or anyone else. The only clue as to the company's activities is a stock photo of a dog on the landing page. That's it.

    I smell a political donor.

    1. First Light Silver badge

      Re: I looked up Command Sight

      I found an AJ Peper on Linkedin.

      Looks like a "one man and his dog" operation.

      1. beep54

        Re: I looked up Command Sight

        Possibly a boy and his dog. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0072730/reference

      2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: I looked up Command Sight

        What makes you believe that there are any human employees at all?

        On the internet...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: I looked up Command Sight

          But dogs are NOT ALLOWED. Not even Spot.

  9. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    Pigeon-guided missile, reloaded?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Not reloaded.

      Upgraded. This version has recall.

  10. Danny 2 Silver badge

    BBC Dog Tales and Cat Tales

    I just watched the first iPlayer episode on dogs. The FIDO group (I kid you not) are fitting dogs with wearable tech. One wee dug could lick a switch on it's back and a recorded message would say, "Please come and help, my owner is in trouble". A cross between Lassie and Futurama. Another had two chew toys attached, so the dog could choose different actions. A third had been trained to press 911 on a touch screen.

  11. Blofeld's Cat
    Coat

    Hmm ...

    Presumably this technology will be adapted for other animals according to their operating environment.

    "Click click"

    "What's that you say Skip? Your WiFi's gone off and you can't get a phone signal?"

    "We're going to need the helicopter?"

  12. TeeCee Gold badge
    WTF?

    So.

    Just like an ROV, but it eats and shits as well? I didn't realise that was a core military requirement.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    It makes sense that the DoD/DARPA would do this...

    I mean, they've already perfected the laser-armed shark, so you've got to have something new to keep your animal-augmentation scientists busy!

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