Shouting orders to your dog is out and telepathically imagining orders to your robot dog is in, after the Australian army has demonstrated a technology in which operators used brain waves to move robot dogs to specific locations using artificial intelligence (AI).
Using something that looks similar to a virtual reality headset, a video released by the army shows a patrol of infantrymen with a single operator controlling the robodog using a hands-free system, which apparently uses an AI-powered brain-computer interface to read brain signals.
“#AusArmy is exploring the use of brain signals to control robotic and autonomous systems,” reads the video description.
In true military fashion, there is little more information than that in the promo video, but previous press releases about the technology give us insight into how they are planning to implement it.
The HoloLens 2 headset provides an augmented reality display with flickering white squares corresponding to points on the floor, waiting for the operator to focus on one specific square. When this occurs, a biosensor reading signals from their visual cortex sends signals to a Raspberry Pi-based amplification circuit powered by AI, which then translates this into commands to move the robodog to that location.
Taking this hands-off approach allows the serviceperson to use their weapon while providing instructions to the robodog, instead of a handset that limits their usefulness. During a previous demonstration, they guided the dog to six separate locations.
“You don’t have to think anything specific to operate the robot, but you do need to focus on that flicker,” said Sergeant Damian Robinson, who demonstrated the technology, in a statement last year.
“It’s more of a visual concentration thing.”
In the latest display, the dog helped the patrol clear buildings, taking on more complex tasks, as well as pushing forward and scouting for the human operator. The Army claims their new suite of “telepathic” robotics will improve the performance of their units and pave the way for new technologies to ensure they are “future ready”.