Dogs wearing PAWS equipment give humans remote access to difficult places

Danger-zone dogs test canine cameras

Security and search and rescue dogs have been taking part in trials of a system that give humans remote access to difficult places.

Wireless systems business Wood & Douglas revealed initial details of the PAWS (Portable All-terrain Wireless System) at DSEi, and said it could be used in emergencies or operations to sniff out explosives or drugs.

The dog wears the video camera on a lightweight adjustable head harness, fastened with Velcro, and also carries a transmitter and batteries in a body harness. An optional speaker and microphone let the operator talk to someone who may be injured or trapped in wreckage.

Grant Notman, the company’s head of sales and marketing, explained that the head-mounted camera gives a good image of a person’s face as they look at the dog, providing a valuable ‘evidence shot’ in criminal investigations.

The system doesn’t require any local communications infrastructure: the operator uses a static or wearable battery-powered receiver. If necessary, this can be covert, in a van, for example, with Wi-Fi rebroadcast to a handheld device. Depending on the frequency band chosen, video signals can be picked up even when the dog is 2-8km away.

All the communications elements of the system are based on existing Wood & Douglas products. Notman said the system has been successfully trialled with military users. “The radio is fine,” he told E&T, “but we’ve done some development work on the harness, to make sure the dogs are totally comfortable with it and it meets the needs of the operators.”

If necessary, the dog can even be fitted with earmuffs and goggles to protect it against the effects of ‘flash-bang’ devices, which some forces use to disorient suspects.

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