Leave it to the Japanese to come up with some of the most unique, but most helpful robots to ever walk on four legs. NSK, a Japanese electronics company, in collaboration with the University of Electro-Communications (UEC) in Japan, have developed a robotic guide dog. While this isn’t the first quadruped robot (we wrote about a couple ones from DARPA earlier), it’s likely the first one designed especially for the blind and visually impaired.
Like many of the cool visual assistance devices we’ve written about, this robot features a Microsoft Kinect sensor that helps it identify and navigate obstacles and stairs. Its “paws” contain bumper sensors to also help it avoid obstacles, however, most of the time it appears that the robot moves on wheels attached to each leg. Future versions of the robotic dog will include voice commands and GPS to provide more accurate directions.
However, the question remains: is it intimidating enough to leave in your backyard at night to scare away robbers?
Here’s a couple videos showing the robot dog in action:
(hat tip: Engadget)