Silver Chips Online

TechnoLogical: Dogs can drive too

By Temi Ibirogba, Online Managing Editor
December 17, 2012
TechnoLogical is a weekly blog focusing on new advances in science and technology and looking critically at how the technology we already use impacts our lives. Come back next Monday for the next edition of TechnoLogical.

"Good boy, right right, good boy, now turn, TURN!"

Anyone who hears those commands would rightfully assume that a little puppy is being trained to roll over. But those are actually the words of a New Zealand woman instructing a dog driving a Mini Cooper.

The video, "Meet Porter: The World's First Driving Dog," has gained over five million views in a little over a week. This viral video was released by both the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Auckland (SPCA) and Mini Cooper. And its slogan, "Dogs this smart deserve a home," says it all.

The goal of SPCA is to insure that animals are given the "love and respect they deserve" according their mission statement. Simonne Mearns of Mini Cooper New Zealand wanted to advertise just that while showing off the company's MINI Countryman car.

To make this project possible, the technical aspects of the car had to be manipulated. The accelerator and brake pedals were raised higher so the dogs could reach them. The wheel and shifter were modified for the dog's paws and ignition made push to start.

Porter, the dog in the video, is one of three who were trained to operate a vehicle in just two months. Even though dogs won't actually be hitting the real roads anytime soon, the overall message of the project is what's sticking. It's promoting the adoption of dogs in the Auckland, New Zealand area through the idea of taking in a "smart dog."

In the video, Porter is able to operate the Mini around a track, skillfully going around a curve and coming to a smooth stop through the instruction of his trainer.

All three of the dogs have amazing stories involving how they ended up at SPCA and the progress they have made towards where they are today. Porter for example was found on the streets, and no one knew anything about him while another dog, Ginny, was found locked in a bathroom, nearly starving.

These dogs represent a step in the future, technologically wise, and raise the question, "Which animal is next?"

For more information on this project, check out their website.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/11891