Dog Tales: 3D Printing, Treating Cancer and Robo-companions
"D" is for "December," and it's also for "dogs." In this edition of the Engineering360 news brief, we'll look at three engineering headlines that could also be considered "dog tales."
3D Printing a New Muzzle
When a Canadian family learned that a tumor on their 7-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog could only be treated by removing a large portion of its muzzle — a procedure that would normally have a significant impact on its quality of life — they turned to 3D printing. Their veterinarian worked with German firm Voxelmed to create a custom-made maxillofacial implant, which meant minimal alteration to the dog's nose structure. As a result, their pet pooch is now able to breathe easily, and appears to be making a full and complete recovery.
Canine Trials for Treating Cancer
A drug that spurs cancer cells to self-destruct has been cleared for clinical trial use with late-stage, human brain cancer patients. The drug, PAC-1, is able to cross the blood-brain barrier, overcoming a major obstacle for anti-cancer drugs. Successful tests have already been done on canine cancer patients: Compared to mice and rats, dogs are more ideal patients for this kind of testing because the cancers are genetically similar to those in humans, and respond to the same medications. And because dogs are more similar in size, they are better models for how well drug agents will perform on larger tumors.
On a lighter note, Sony's Aibo robot dog was discontinued 11 years ago — but the company has just released a new version with advanced mechatronics and artificial intelligence that make it cuter, smarter and more lifelike. Thanks to cameras and sensors, it can analyze sounds and images — and even recognize its owners' faces. It can also adapt to its environment through simultaneous location and mapping, or "SLAM," technology. Before you decide to order one for the holidays, however, be aware that the price is 198,000 yen — around $1,750 USD. Users must also subscribe to an online plan to get the full range of aibo features.