Georgia Tech researchers are building a robotic assistance dog that can emulate the actions of the real kind, and have identified and taught the machine to do simple but critical tasks like opening doors and drawers, and bringing items to a table.
From Georgia Tech:
Users verbally command the robot to complete a task and the robot responds once a basic laser pointer illuminates the location of the desired action.
For instance, if a person needs an item fetched, that individual would normally command a service dog to do so and then gesture with their hands toward the location. The service robot mimics the process, with the hand gesture replaced by aiming the laser pointer at the desired item.
Employing this technology, users can accomplish basic yet challenging missions such as opening doors, drawers and retrieving medication.
“It’s a road to get robots out there helping people sooner,” said Professor Charlie Kemp, Georgia Tech Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Service dogs have a great history of helping people, but there’s a multi-year waiting list. It’s a very expensive thing to have. We think robots will eventually help to meet those needs.”
Kemp and graduate student Hai Nguyen worked closely with the team of trainers at Georgia Canines for Independence (GCI) in Acworth, Ga. to research the command categories and interaction that is core to the relationship between individuals and service dogs.
Betty, a Golden Retriever, was studied to understand her movements and relationship with commands. Key to the success is Betty’s ability to work with a towel attached to a drawer or door handle, which allows her to use her mouth for such actions as opening and closing. The robot was then successfully programmed to use the towel in a similar manner.
Press release: Robotic Technology Inspired by Service Dogs