Before Zazzu K9 handlers can successfully utilize their service animals alongside active drone assets, they must familiarize each dog to the constant presence of drones. Drone and robot power systems, control surfaces, lights, and movement patterns can make animals fearful, startled, or distracted, creating setbacks and obstacles in training.
Sturdy remote-controlled toys are introduced as training aids in a controlled setting. A positive association to rotor and gear noises is made by activating the training aid while giving rewards and treats to the animal, maintaining a calm state.
Studies have shown that dogs will respond to signal cues from drones and robots just as they do to human signals.
Simple tasks such as frisbee retrieval are first performed in the presence of drone noises, after which moving training aids are brought into the area while the dog is working, and finally the drone training aid is included as part of the K9 task requirements. For example, a drone aid might be utilized to carry a frisbee or mark its position, whereupon the K9 will be set to retrieve it.
After drone introductions are complete, K9 units can be taught to complete specific work tasks in conjunction with drones, as well as maneuvering safely in the presence of ROV units.