It was near dusk on Christmas Eve, 2007. A Special Operations detachment was moving through thick brush in a rural area of Iraq when the military working dog attached to the unit, who was tracking an enemy combatant off-leash, was killed in action.
The outcome of that engagement stuck with Jarrett Heavenston, a retired combat controller who co-founded Tough Stump Technologies with two fellow soldiers in 2016.
Last week the Southern Pines-based tactical mapping and Immersive technology firm released the Atos Tracking System, named in honor of the dog that very likely saved the lives of Heavenston and his teammates.
“What happened to Atos, I knew we needed a way to mitigate that kind of risk in the field. Whether it is people, or dogs, or something bigger like vehicles or parachute bundles, being able to track them and view their location in real time would be an enormous asset,” Heavenston said.
The Atos system uses GPS-enabled technology to track more than 100 individual tags through an app plug-in with ATAK (android team awareness kit) which is used by the military, and BlueTooth technology. In civilian scenarios, the ATOS system can enable search-and-rescue efforts and mitigate risk for first responders, such as hotshot fire crews.
No information is stored within the tag except an identifying number. The person calling up the tag uses a command link UHF receiver connected to the Atos system. The program identifies the tagged person or item, where they are, what frequency they are using, and any other necessary information such as what equipment they might be carrying.
“We have put a lot of thought into this technology. We really believe in it, and when I say believe I am quite emotional about the benefits this can offer,” Heavenston said. "Atos was a teammate. If we had this on him that night, the outcome would have been a lot different.”
For more information on Tough Stump Technologies or ATOS, visit www.toughstump.com or call 910-725-0895.