Scientists are looking to put a new kind of dog into the fight to rescue survivors of future disasters: a canine strapped into a high-tech vest that will allow it to function somewhat like a robot.

The combination of a dog's acute sense of smell and gadgets attached to the animal, including a camera and global positioning system, could help speed up search-and-rescue operations and save lives.

Developed by a group of Japanese engineers led by Kazunori Ohno at Tohoku University, the Robo-Dog system is set to undergo final trials this year.