Robot Dog Makes Short Work of FedEx Boxes Maze, Guides Blindfolded Man

MIT's Cheetah turns guide dog 1 photo
Back in the early months of 2019, one of the creepy robots currently being developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology achieved something no other four-legged creation of its kind ever achieved: the damn thing performed a backflip.
Impressive as that may have been, this trick of the Cheetah robot doesn’t really translate into a skill us humans can use to advance our goals. But now comes news of some way we could actually benefit from it.

Back in March, scientists from the University of California, Berkeley presented the Cheetah in the role of a guide dog for blind or otherwise visually impaired people. It’s a solution that has several advantages over present-day living creatures, or wheeled, rigid cane solutions, but certainly lacks the warmth a real dog can offer.

The robot was equipped with a laser system for it to be able to scan its surroundings and create a map, and a camera to see. A special guiding software (which has been designed to be updatable) is also on deck governing its moves and choices.

A big advantage the Cheetah has is its ability to navigate narrow spaces. It is linked to the human it is meant to help by means of a leash, that allows its movements to be followed precisely, and has no problem guiding humans through a maze made of FedEx boxes.

The robot was so far tested using blindfolded people, and, as you can see in the video below, it seems to be doing a great job, despite the rather clunking and annoying sounds it makes.

Although still far from completion, the use of robot dogs in this way does come with some advantages, including the fact they don’t need expensive and prolonged training to learn what they’re supposed to do.

The biggest problem is how many people in need of assistance when walking would turn to this inanimate object, when our trusted sidekick dogs can do the exact same thing, and be cute in the process.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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