Automated Mammalian Training Devices
Automated mammalian training devices are the subject of a new DARPA proposal submission.
Animal training currently requires long hours and the involvement of a human trainer. The development of an automated mammalian training device would significantly reduce the need for human involvement. In addition, it may enable the ability for remote on-site training in potentially limited access areas. This device would also have the ability to better and more rapidly train an animal through the collection of performance metrics that indicate subject intelligence, capability, and progress.
(Dog has cooler-looking sunglasses than me)
The basis for the request was apparently work done in training rats to distinguish contraband materials. The technique as described doesn't seem particularly advanced; it just uses a computer to see if the rat exhibits the appropriate behavior (standing up) in the presence of the right stimulus (a cocaine 'mimic' scent) and then activates a food reward.
In his 1957 novel Slave Ship, Frederik Pohl writes about an elaborate technology used to train animals and develop communication between animals to make them better servants for human beings.
From Wired as well as Sniffer rats stand up to smuggling and DoD; thanks to Icycle for the tip and the reference for this story.
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