Those suffering from visual impairment may soon be able to rely on a new kind of companion - a robotic guide dog. Students at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich’s (ETH Zürich) D-ITET Centre for Project-based Learning have been working on bringing artificially intelligent versions of man’s best friend to life. The RoboDog Flagship Project is being pursued by researchers at the institution, alongside other similar AI innovations that would aid the production of autonomous cars and flying drones. Those who love their guide dogs needn’t worry about them being made redundant yet, as the researchers do appreciate that nothing quite beats a furry pal. They do hope, however, that their advances could provide a cheaper alternative where guide dogs are unavailable - or that it can be applied for rescue operations. “The goal of the RoboDog flagship project is to help blind people navigate their everyday life,” PhD student Davide Plozza says. “Guide dogs cost a lot of money to train and our aim is to develop a robotic system that is able to navigate autonomously in an unseen environment and guide blind people, avoiding obstacles. “To achieve that goal we used a commercially available robotic dog and we build additional hardware on top, including new sensors, and an additional computational unit”
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