Canine sentinel: Australian army conducts trials of mind-controlled 'robot dogs' in training exercise


Imagine going up against one of the most hardcore armies in the world, who also use killer robot dogs that can literally shred you to pieces, while being controlled by a specialised and highly trained soldier, tucked far away from the perils of a battlefield. Only a fool would imagine going up against such an army. Well, this week, Australia just became that army.

Australia has been testing using robot dogs in certain units of their army for years now. Equipped with guns and grenade launchers, these “canine sentinels” have truly shaped up to be the best friends of corpsmen in those units. Now, however, the Australian Army is conducting trials of controlling these robot dogs using just their minds.

How the Australian army added mind control to their robot dogs
With eight sensors carefully packaged inside a helmet that operate in combination with a Microsoft HoloLens, the Australian Army has mastered mind-control skills.

The invention includes an AI decoder that converts a soldier’s brain signals into understandable directions sent to the robotic quadruped, enabling people to remain concentrated on their environment.

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The system was created by the University of Technology Sydney, which first announced the invention last year but has only recently released a new report detailing the work.

“The user used our augmented brain-robot interface (aBRI) platform to operate the robot systems,” according to a report released on March 16 by the American Chemical Society.

“The aBRI platform enables users to engage with machines/robots in more natural ways, which is preferable to the traditional brain-computer interface (BCI) application setting, which needs users to stay stationary.”

The aBRI platform, according to the researchers, has four major components: interface devices, a transportable electroencephalogram (EEG) system, a single-board computer, and a robot system.

Using EEG to control robots
The earlier study, published last year, showed the technology’s ability to gather EEG data “from the frontal region of the head using noninvasive epitaxial graphene (EG) sensors on silicon carbide (SiC) on silicon with an unpatterned surface.”

The most recent version demonstrated the utility of brain-machine connections that detect orders from the occipital cortex, which is responsible for visual awareness such as colour, shape, and motion.

Also read: AI Mind Hunter: Researchers make AI bot that can read your mind and draw 80% accurate images

The human manager only needs to envision where they want the automaton to go, and the machine will follow.

The technology enables soldiers to operate the robots without using their hands, which is perfect for battle.

Canine sentinel_ Australian army conducts trials of mind-controlled 'robot dogs' in training exercise (1)

Mind-control made easy
“The whole process is not difficult to learn,” said Sergeant Damian Robinson of the 5th Combat Service Support Battalion, who tried the HoloLens device. It’s very simple. It only took a few practices.

It’s more a matter of ocular focus. “You don’t have to consider anything special to run the automaton, but you do have to pay attention to that flicker.”

The flicker is a beacon in the HoloLens headgear that serves as a landmark for the mechanical canine to follow, keeping it on track. “The idea has a lot of promise,” Robinson says. “At its heart, it converts brain waves into zeros and ones, which can then be applied to a variety of various devices,” he added.

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Canine sentinel: Australian army conducts trials of mind-controlled 'robot dogs' in training exercise
Canine sentinel: Australian army conducts trials of mind-controlled 'robot dogs' in training exercise
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