Camera-fitted dogs to find buried quake survivorsArchive
FUJIMI: Rescue dog Gonta, outfitted with a GPS-enabled backpack but driven by his own innate sense of smell, jumps onto a pile of collapsed rubble to find buried survivors.
Though just a drill, the intensity of the Brittany spaniel in scouring the mound of broken concrete highlights the key role of sniffer dogs in saving lives when buildings collapse, such as in earthquakes or explosions.
Ten-year-old Gonta helped search for survivors after the massive 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 — back then he, like other rescue dogs, relied on their olfactory instincts to look for survivors.
But now a Japanese researcher says he has developed an idea that uses technology to augment nature — to increase the chance of finding people as the clock ticks down.
During the training session last month in the city of Fujimi north of Tokyo, Kazunori Ohno monitored live video and a map transmitted by the camera and GPS on Gonta to a tablet device.
Ohno, a professor at Japan’s Tohoku University, said a big problem has been that a handler could not know what was happening once a dog entered a damaged structure alone. The pack, still in development, helps overcome that hurdle.
“A handler can check a video to see where a dog is searching, how it looks inside a building and where survivors are located,” he said.
Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2016