To develop the seeing robodog, the team added a laser ranging system onto existing robotic dogs. It is this laser system that the seeing robodogs use to create an accurate map of their surroundings, after which they can then safely navigate through any obstacles in the environment, tagging their visually impaired humans along with them.
These robotic guide dogs are also equipped with a 360-degree rotating camera, of which the dogs use to keep an eye on their master at all times.
At the moment, the technology is still in its early stages, and there is a lot more that the team needs to do before you start seeing blind people walking down the street with their robotic dogs. However, even at the current stage, the results from the robotic guide dogs are still impressive.
One of the greatest selling points of robotic guide dogs, according to Zhongyu Li, is the insanely fast learning time of robotic dogs. While living guide dogs offer companionship, emotional and navigational support to their masters, it takes too much time and money to train them to be reliable guide dogs.
With robotic guide dogs, you don’t have to worry about this expensive training. All it takes to get a robotic guide dog ready to navigate around the streets is a simple software update.
What’s more, as the navigational software improves, such improvements can be simply pushed to the robotic dog with another update, rather than additional months of training.