Cerberus system equips dogs with extra eyes and ears

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The Cerberus system allows a handler to maintain video contact with a dog(Credit: Visual Engineering)

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Dogs may make excellent team mates, but they aren't very good at telling you what they see. Colchester-based Visual Engineering's Cerberus Digital Canine Transmission system is designed take this feedback way beyond barking by providing a high-tech set of eyes that let the handler see what the canine sees.

Aimed at the defense market, the Cerberus consists of a bespoke harness that holds a small camera arm and a SIRIUS LE transceiver snug against the ridge of a dog’s spine. This transmitter sends back an encrypted video signal to the handler's 4.3-in, high-resolution portable receiver over a non-line-of-sight range of approximately 300 to 500 m (1,000 to 1,600 ft). The entire unit weighs less than 2 kg (4.4 lb)

Visual Engineering says that Cerberus is very simple to use. The camera arm is spring loaded and releasing it activates the system. The handler can then select from eight radio channels that are programmed using a PC application and an RS232 serial port. The spring also protects the arm from damage as the dog runs through brush or climbs through holes. The transceiver case is also specially hardened for rugged handling.

The battery-powered digital canine transmitter uses Cobham COFDM digital video modulation and encryption technology and a diversity receiver, which uses more than one antenna and receiving unit for maintaining the best signal. In addition to the high-sensitivity cameras and low-light Infrared (IR) cameras, with modulated IR LEDs and white light LEDS, the system also has microphones for audio and can be upgraded to include on-board SD card recording, thermal imaging, and high-definition cameras.

And this certainly isn't the end point for high-tech enhancements to the canine-human relationship, with sensor-carrying harnesses that relay information back to the handler or commands to the dog also in development.

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