Throughout history animals have accompanied men into combat as modes of transport and communication, protectors and companions. They have fulfilled a variety of roles – from carrying men and munitions to evacuating the wounded, performing guard and sentry duties to carrying out search and rescue operations, detecting gas in trenches to locating improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in Afghanistan.
Horses, mules, donkeys, oxen and even elephants were used for heavy labour during the First and Second World Wars. Animals were not only used to carry weapons and supplies, but to transport men as well. Pigeons and dogs, often able to navigate battlefields more quickly and easily than humans, were trained to carry messages. Dogs, with their sensitive hearing and heightened sense of smell, are particularly suited for detection duties. Guard dogs are employed to watch over militarily important locations – such as railways, bridges, defence installations and ammunition stores – and give warning of any trespassers. Dogs, with their keen sense of smell, could seek out soldiers and civilians in distress or in need of assistance.
Animals as sensors
Animals as sensors have also been used for disaster detection, particularly in disaster types such as earthquakes. Yeung describes an example of observing animals’ behavior for early earthquake alert, but the author gives no guarantee that his study works correctly for every earthquake.
Kahn suggested an idea that the best and the cheapest biosensors are already distributed globally but generally ignored: They’re called animals. Kahn’s idea leads the scientists to start new investigations to be made on animals. Important research, which is similar to the study proposed in this paper, has been conducted by Lee et al. In their study, they offered a Bio-adhoc sensors network for an early forest fire warning system for mountain areas, and they used animals as wireless adhoc nodes.
Marine animals as sensors
Animal behavior research using sensors has been carried out for some time. A great deal of scientific research has been conducted with regard to the existence and habitat of the marine and land animals. One such study has collected data about oceans. “UC Santa Cruz researchers are using marine animals outfitted with sensors to collect oceanographic data. For example, sensors on California sea lions collect the animals’ location, speed, and dive data along with ocean temperature and salinity information. The data is then transmitted to the researchers via satellite”. In another study, the first effective method was based on a pyro-detector which sensed the temperature contrast between the animal’s body and the surrounding pasture. There are similar studies related to animal tracking using sensors. The main idea is therefore to show the existence of many investigations into animal tracking using sensors.
Animals as Mobile Biological Sensors for Forest Fire Detection
While scientists are tracking animals to gather information on their daily habits, such as hunting or mating, forest rangers can use the gathered data for fire detection. In addition, unifying these methods into a single system may alleviate the overall cost and economic burden on governments.
The devices used in this system are animals which are native animals living in forests, sensors (thermo and radiation sensors with GPS features) that measure the temperature and transmit the location of the MBS, access points for wireless communication and a central computer system which classifies of animal actions. The system offers two different methods, firstly: access points continuously receive data about animals’ location using GPS at certain time intervals and the gathered data is then classified and checked to see if there is a sudden movement (panic) of the animal groups: this method is called animal behavior classification (ABC). The second method can be defined as thermal detection (TD): the access points get the temperature values from the MBS devices and send the data to a central computer to check for instant changes in the temperatures. This system may be used for many purposes other than fire detection, namely animal tracking, poaching prevention and detecting instantaneous animal death.
Researchers use flying insects to drop sensors from air, land them safely on the ground
There are many places in this world that are hard for researchers to study, mainly because it’s too dangerous for people to get there. Now University of Washington researchers have created one potential solution: A 98 milligram sensor system — about one tenth the weight of a jellybean, or less than one hundredth of an ounce — that can ride aboard a small drone or an insect, such as a moth, until it gets to its destination. Then, when a researcher sends a Bluetooth command, the sensor is released from its perch and can fall up to 72 feet — from about the sixth floor of a building — and land without breaking. Once on the ground, the sensor can collect data, such as temperature or humidity, for almost three years. The team presented this research Sept. 24 at MobiCom 2020.
“We have seen examples of how the military drops food and essential supplies from helicopters in disaster zones. We were inspired by this and asked the question: Can we use a similar method to map out conditions in regions that are too small or too dangerous for a person to go to?” said senior author Shyam Gollakota, a UW associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. “This is the first time anyone has shown that sensors can be released from tiny drones or insects such as moths, which can traverse through narrow spaces better than any drone and sustain much longer flights.”
While industrial-sized drones use grippers to carry their payloads, the sensor is held on the drone or insect using a magnetic pin surrounded by a thin coil of wire. To release the sensor, a researcher on the ground sends a wireless command that creates a current through the coil to generate a magnetic field. The magnetic field makes the magnetic pin pop out of place and sends the sensor on its way. The sensor was designed with its battery, the heaviest part, in one corner. As the sensor falls, it begins rotating around the corner with the battery, generating additional drag force and slowing its descent. That, combined with the sensor’s low weight, keeps its maximum fall speed at around 11 miles per hour, allowing the sensor to hit the ground safely.
The researchers envision using this system to create a sensor network within a study area. For example, researchers could use drones or insects to scatter sensors across a forest or farm that they want to monitor. Once a mechanism is developed to recover sensors after their batteries have died, the team expects their system could be used in a wide variety of locations, including environmentally sensitive areas. The researchers plan to replace the battery with a solar cell and automate sensor deployment in industrial settings.
Military employment of animals for Warfare
Military has also been using animals as resources by armies. Animals such as horses, elephants, mules, camels and deers have been used as a means of transport or for fighting in wars (carrying humans or goods). Other uses include pigeons to send messages, dogs and other animals to detect mines and animals killed for use as food by the military
Animals are also exploited for military experimentation. Armed forces sometimes test new weapons and their effects on living things by attacking animals with them. They may be interested in seeing how the animals’ bodies can resist the damage caused by attacks or extreme physical situations such as those in which soldiers may find themselves. Animals may be used as subjects in surgical experiments by military doctors to explore how weapon wounds can be treated and how they heal.
In some cases, they have been employed as weapons to attack the enemy. During the two World Wars, dogs were used as anti-tank machines. From the time they were puppies, they were fed inside tanks or next to them. Subsequently they were deprived of food, loaded with explosives and then released in a combat zone. As they approached the enemy tanks looking for food, the explosives were detonated. Similar tactics have been used with camels and donkeys. During World War II, the United States Navy conducted experiments with bats and other animal species to be used as bombs and for other military objectives. Currently, donkeys are used for exploding bombs. Donkeys are loaded down with bombs that are activated from a distance. This has been done in various conflicts in the Middle East. Recently Eagles have been used for attacking drones.
Russia is using military-trained dolphins in the Black Sea, according to satellite images, reported in April 2022
Russia has deployed military-trained dolphins to protect its Black Sea naval base in Crimea from underwater attack, new satellite images reveal.
The images, taken by the U.S. satellite company Maxar and analyzed by the nonprofit professional military association U.S. Naval Institute, show that two dolphin pens were placed at the entrance to Sevastopol harbor around the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The harbor, which sits at the southern tip of Crimea, is a major port and of vital military importance to Russia. While many of the Russian ships anchored there are safely out of missile range from Ukraine, they could still be attacked underwater, giving trained bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) an important role to play in their defense.
Dolphins can communicate through high-pitched whistles, and they also sense objects and determine distances through echolocation — sending out high-frequency clicks that bounce back off objects, revealing their proximity to the dolphin. Specially trained dolphins use this natural sonar to detect and draw attention to naval mines or enemy divers. Russia also claims to be finding new ways to make use of dolphins’ detecting abilities.
“Our specialists developed new devices that convert dolphins’ underwater sonar detection of targets into a signal to the operator’s monitor,” a source said to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “The Ukrainian navy lacked funds for such know-how, and some projects had to be mothballed.”
Russia has been training and deploying marine animals for military purposes since the 1960s. Throughout the Cold War, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union developed marine mammal programs: The U.S. used dolphins and Californian sea lions, while the USSR deployed dolphins in warm waters and beluga whales and seals in Arctic regions.
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