Bozkurt and Roberts are part of a multi-institutional team that developed the Smart Emergency Response System (SERS), a coordinated group of humans, dogs, robots and drones that work together to find and save people during an emergency.
The researchers modified off-the-shelf harnesses to combine microphones, cameras and environmental sensors that could transmit data from a disaster area.
The harnesses could be customized depending on the situation. For example, if there was a natural-gas leak, the harness could be fitted with a natural-gas sensor. Or, if there were radiation, a Geiger counter could be attached.
The vests also include sensors that can monitor the dog's behavior and physiology, such as a heart-rate monitor, to track the dog's health or determine if the dog found a scent or object of interest.
The high-tech harnesses aren't meant to replace dog handlers, but rather to work with them. Wireless communications devices could send information about the environment or the dogs' well-being to a command center or to dog handlers nearby.