Friday 01 April 2016

My wife has always loved dogs. But our lifestyle, and our two cats, make owning one difficult. But last year she found the solution in This puts together local people with dog owners, who for some reason cannot walk their dogs, with people like my wife who like to walk with a dog. My wife loves it and goes out everyday. Indeed she’s given up her gym membership as a result and really enjoys the exercise she gets.

But these dog walking opportunities might reduce with the launch of a device that walks dogs without human intervention. First developed by Nanyang Technology University in Singapore and the University of California Berkley to turn beetles into drones (See Daily Telegraph – Giant remote-controlled cyborg beetles could replace drones – 30th Mar 16) the device has now been extended to allow dogs to go out on walks on their own.

A simple dog collar is used with tiny electrodes connected to the dog in a simple and painless operation that can be undertaken at your local vet. AI is used. The dog owner takes the dog on a safe walk from home which the WalkMyDoggy collar then remembers. Next time, the dog is simply let out and WalkMyDoggy controls the dog around the walk circuit. If the dog is distracted, by say another dog, the collar will stop the dog from going off course. A simple App allows the dog owner to track exactly where the dog is second-by-second. A camera beams a live video steam to your iPhone so you can see what your dog is doing and, intervene, if needed.

Add on modules are available. A simple robot housed in a tiny truck which is pulled along by the dog collects any dog waste, wraps it and deposits it in the appropriate waste bin. Another module is being developed to throw tennis balls for the dog to retrieve.

The success of BorrowMyDoggy, which has over 300,000 members in the UK alone, has shown how many of the UK’s 9 million dog owners cannot give their dogs regular walks. BorrowMyDoggy recently raised over £1.5m – See City AM 21st Oct 2015. This bodes well for . A crowdfunding exercise is in process with a potential valuation of $1b. Indeed some wags are even suggesting a WalkMyUnicorn follow-up.

Posted by Richard Holway at '00:00'