Thursday, February 20, 2014

Robot Aids For the Blind?

A few days ago I was watching a business program on TV.

During the course of the program there was some talk of Google buying several robotics companies around Boston, Mass. Much of the talk was about how one of the companies in  particular modelled many of its mobile robots on animals.

There was quite an amazing video of a large robot galloping along a sidewalk.

I got to thinking, what if Google and these robotics companies got to create an artificial guide dog.?

A heavily constructed robot with some sensory equipment to track traffic and analyse  obstructions could replace dogs the size of Labradors and Golden Retrievers.

An artificial guide dog could be programmed to follow a planned route on Google maps. It wouldn't require feeding, just plug it into a power outlet at night to charge batteries. There would be no poop  clear-up routine to follow. It would possibly obey eevery command you might request.

But would it be as fun. A real guide dog keeps you company after work too. It is warm and soft to stroke. It has little foibles which give it real character, and it is often a real magnet for women!

Would I choose a robot over my Labrador? No. After three and a half months together, he has found a way deep into my heart, where I doubt any machine could ever go.

It may be nice to have a choice for those who for whatever reason don't choose to use a dog. But for this dog user, dogs come first, and blow the GPS. I'll trust in my mental maps.

The robot in this video, on YouTube is a military robot called Big Dog. But I could see it used as a guide dog someday. 

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