The Pentagon is funding experiments by scientists to get knapsack-outfitted rats to sniff out land mines and bombs.
Two Bucknell University professors will work with defense contractor Coherent Technical Services Inc. to condition rats to do the work of bomb-sniffing dogs, the university announced.
The rats will wear mini-backpacks and wireless transmitters that track their positions. They will learn to associate a vibration in the backpack with an edible treat. Over time, their brains will become wired to associate the buzz with rewards. With this reward mechanism, they will be trained to sniff out bombs and explosive chemicals.
The army research office has forked over $100,000 for the first phase of the project. If the project proves successful, the contract could be extended for two years with funding of up to $750,000.