Dogs are “fast, efficient, able to cover all sorts of terrain, can understand both verbal and gestural commands, and they run on dog food.” But dogs can’t move rubble or fly. Robots can do those things.
What if robots and dogs could work together on emergency response? That’s a job for the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS), a joint project involving MIT and other universities along with National Instruments, Boeing, and other businesses. Robots communicate with a command center using whatever wireless networks are available.
The dogs are intended to be an integral part of this system, and they’re being outfitted with modular “cybernetic suits” that can be rigged up with a variety of sensors depending on the situation.
The suits also monitor the dogs themselves, sending back their heart rates so that their handlers can make sure that they’re doing okay. It works in the other direction, too, with speakers on the vests relaying vocal commands, and embedded tactile systems providing gentle nudges to steer the dogs remotely.