Rats look for people – level 3
Earthquakes, flooding and hurricanes cause enormous damage to infrastructure and trap people inside collapsed buildings. A Belgium non-profit company APOPO is training rats to search the disaster zones for survivors.
The rats wear high-tech backpacks that provide real-time wireless audio-visual communication with the company. The technology includes a video camera and audio which helps trainers work with the rat to find people. It also helps emergency workers communicate with the survivors.
African giant pouch rats are curious and like to explore. They are very biddable, and they can be trained much like a dog. In addition to their adventurous spirit, their small size and excellent smell sense makes them perfect for locating things in tight space.
The rats are being trained in a simulated disaster zone. They must locate the target person in an empty room, pull a switch on their vest to trigger a beeper, and then return to base for a reward. Trainers are gradually increasing the complexity of the environment to make it as close to reality as possible.
Difficult words: real-time wireless audio-visual communication (communication with live audio and video and without wires), biddable (easily taught or controlled), complexity (many parts connected in a complicated way).
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