Honeywell, maker of the world’s best air humidifier and other home appliances, is now hawking battle-suits for dogs, turning our four-legged friends into military scouts.
The suit weighs in at 3.7 pounds, and has the catchy name K9 C2SA, which is "short" for the even more laborious "Dog, Command and Control, and Situational Awareness." It straps onto the little doggie’s back, and includes a hi-resolution camera that streams wireless video, infra-red night-vision video, plus GPS. The humans controlling the dog can spot it either by IR beacon, IR illuminator, or via a good old-fashioned amber light on the chest.
The idea is that the dog gets sent into places too dangerous or too small for humans to handle. This could be scouting out potential danger spots in urban warfare, or squeezing into a collapsed building to find disaster victims. The dogs can even be remote-controlled, says Defense News, using four silent vibrating buzzers in the harness, to indicate forward, back, left and right. In this manner, the dog is a swap-in replacement for a robot explorer, only it’s more reliable, faster, and can be recharged with food instead of electricity.
The harness itself needs recharging, of course, but it can operate for up to four hours with streaming video, lights, and radio all burning the batteries.
Sending dogs into battle is as morally unpleasant as sending humans into battle, but for rescue operations, dogs are superior to robots in almost any situation. They’re able to figure out a lot of access problems for themselves, and once they find an injured person they’ll bark until rescuers arrive to dig them out. And look at it from the other side. If you’re trapped in a tunnel or under a collapsed building, what would you rather see? A dog that can keep you company while you await rescue, or a robot with even less personality than your office PC?