Ryerson’s robot and dog team takes second at science contest

Dare, the black lab, models the robot rescue gear developed by computer science professor Alex Ferworn (far right).

Dare, the black lab, models the robot rescue gear developed by computer science professor Alex Ferworn (far right).

The Ryerson project that combines rescue dogs and robots was a favourite with judges, but ultimately took second place when online votes were counted at a recent science competition.

Canine Assisted Robot Technology, developed by Ryerson computer science professor Alex Ferworn and graduate student Jimmy Tran, was presented at the inaugural Science Slam in Washington D.C. Tuesday.

First place went to Katrien Kolenberg from Harvard.

We came in second, which is disappointing, but we are the Canadian champions!” Ferworn told The Ryersonian in an email.

Ferworn’s project could one day mean the difference between life and death for someone trapped alone in a confined space after an earthquake or another type of disaster.

Search and rescue dogs are trained to bark when they find someone in need, and dogs wearing Ferworn’s technology release a small robot from a pouch around their neck when a bark is registered. The robot provides water, medical supplies or a walkie-talkie to the person who is trapped.

Ferworn’s technology could also provide information to a human search-and-rescue team about the survivor’s location

Science Slam is sponsored by the European Union and designed to encourage collaboration between European and non-European scientists.

The finalists included projects from Harvard, Georgetown, the University of Illinois and Montana State University.

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