One day, lazy dog owners may be able to command their canines to walk themselves or perform a variety of other tasks all by remote control.

Researchers at Auburn University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering have created a special suit for dogs that comes equipped with a microprocessor, wireless radio and GPS receiver.

According to Science Daily, the device allows a handler to “provide autonomous guidance of the canine using an embedded command module with vibration and tone generation capabilities.”

Jeff Miller and David Bevly describe details of the project in the forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Modelling, Identification and Control, noting that their tests show obedience accuracy up to almost 98 percent.

However, researchers aren’t developing the technology just to make life a little easier for people too lazy to walk their dogs.

There are a variety of life-saving situations where the technology could be used to give dogs commands remotely.

Canines are the most accurate means of detecting explosives, drugs and people trapped beneath debris from disasters. However, dog handlers can’t always safely access the same places their dogs can reach, and these environments are often noisy, which makes it difficult to give and receive commands.

Miller and Bevly have demonstrated that working dogs and search-and-rescue dogs can be trained to respond "virtually flawlessly" to remote control tones and vibrations using their device. They say the canines perform as if they were receiving commands from a human handler.

"The ability to autonomously control a canine has far-reaching implications," the team said.

Other potential applications include allowing emergency responders to be guided remotely in dangerous situations and creating a haptic feedback GPS to help the visually impaired navigate.

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Laura Moss writes about a variety of topics with a focus on animals, science, language and culture. But she mostly writes about cats.

Researchers develop canine remote control
The technology could one day be used to guide search-and-rescue dogs in places handlers can't reach.