The Seeing Eye Dog V2.0 is shaping up as a gamechanger

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An necessary new iteration of the robotic seeing eye canine was proven to the world this week, when Glasgow College confirmed off RoboGuide, an AI-powered quadruped for visually impaired individuals. The long run for robotic canine assistants seems to be not simply commercially enormous, but in addition massively empowering for the world’s one-third of billion visually impaired individuals.

Changing an actual “seeing eye canine” with a robotic information canine may seem to be a step backwards, notably contemplating the life-affirming nature of the inter-species collaboration and the plain emotional bond.

That is till you understand that just one in each 15,000 visually impaired individuals has a service canine of any sort.

After a century of improvement, there are simply 20,000 information canine on the planet … and 43 million blind individuals … plus one other 295 million who’re visually impaired sufficient that a information canine would radically enhance their existence.

Unitree’s Aliengo quadruped prices $50,000 and might keep away from obstacles. This picture reveals the Aliengo below improvement as an assistant for the blind at New York’s Binghamton College

Stephen Folkerts ’24

That could be a important quantity – one third of a billion human beings – and it places the necessity for low price robotic assistants into the territory of a humanitarian trigger as a result of every one may give a human life-changing autonomy.

Whereas robots are logical to be used in supply, building, inspection, safety, website monitoring, legislation enforcement and navy the place they’ll create a lot higher effectivity and decrease prices, the necessity a blind particular person has for the approaching era of robotic assistant canine is way higher.

College of Glasgow Robotic Canine RoboGuide system below improvement

Most significantly, in decreasing the price of a helpful assistant from the US$50,000 for a skilled canine, to beneath $2,000 which appears possible, there is a formidable latent demand ready to be met.

As ingenious because the information canine is, all that coaching prices cash (ballpark $50,000 a canine) and time (15-18 months) and the failure fee is round 50%, so it is not shocking that the system hasn’t scaled properly sufficient to incorporate the opposite 99.9% of much less privileged people who want one now. That is additional compounded by the restricted life expectancy of canine. The common service lifetime of a canine service canine is simply 5 to seven years. Robots can have a life expectancy far higher than that, and could be repaired to model new: canines and people can not.

Synthetic Intelligence is without doubt one of the big technological leaps that may allow the robotic canine to be significantly extra helpful very quickly. AI means it is possible for you to to converse intelligently together with your robotic assistant in your native language. Over time, the human will develop accustomed to and ultimately tweak this laptop human interface to have the voice and persona they’re most comfy with and the particular reminiscence of a lifetime of shared experiences collectively.

Xiaomi is greatest generally known as a tier-one cell phone maker, however it’s firmly dedicated to the event of robotic quadrupeds. The CyberDog 2 is smaller and lighter than the primary era, stands concerning the dimension of a Doberman at 562 x 339 x 481 mm (22.12 x 13.35 x 18.9 in) and weighs 8.9 kg (19.6 lb). It additionally runs twin co-processing brains (don’t do this at house) with 8GB of RAM and 16GB of storage and it additionally has an array of 19 sensors offering it with imaginative and prescient, “listening to” and contact sensitivity.


In case you ought to ever resolve or have to improve or change your robotic canine, it’ll stay precisely the identical pal it was earlier than, simply with a brand new physique. It is likely to be a bigger and extra athletic model of the identical type issue, with hot-swappable batteries for extended endurance outdoors house, or it is likely to be a special type issue fully.

It’d stand upright utilizing a Segway-style self-balancing base for a smaller footprint and therefore simpler maneuvering, or it might need a mixture of legs and wheels to roll or skate on flat surfaces and to stroll over uneven or unstable terrain – but it surely is not going to be a case of beginning over from scratch as it’s with a brand new information flesh-and-blood canine.

Unitree's $100,000 B2 robot can be fitted with either feet or wheels, and has a remarkable array of tricks as can be seen on the videos on its product page
Unitree’s $100,000 B2 robotic could be fitted with both ft or wheels, and has a outstanding array of methods as could be seen on the movies on its product web page


This common alternative cycle (the demise of 1 information canine and the familiarization with the subsequent) means common emotionally-challenging disruption. The information canine robotic’s whole voice, persona and reminiscence might be transferable. Your subsequent robotic canine can have precisely the identical persona and reminiscence of conversations and shared occasions. The transition might be seamless. This is likely to be essential for sufferers with Alzheimer’s and different types of dementia, as a robotic will turn out to be an attentive coach to gradual the decline of the capability to recollect, suppose, or make selections.

The robotic helper of the not-too-distant future may also provide a further diploma of security given it has an array of cameras to seize (and stream) any situation it witnesses, and the power and intelligence to name for assist with or with out your directions. Muggers want anonymity. Somebody accompanied by a robotic canine is just not a tender goal as a result of the canine can doc and broadcast the crime in excessive def.

If you find yourself not endangered, it may converse with you, cherry choose the information for you and browse it, describe your environment for you, or communicate knowledgeably about something … having the world’s recorded data at its disposal makes for a educated companion.

Spot rocking the Boston Dynamics d-floor
Spot rocking the Boston Dynamics d-floor

Boston Dynamics

Synthetic intelligence already provides an enthralling companion for any temper, being an adventurous conversationalist or a passive agreeable one because the temper takes you. Most significantly, your companion is usually a compassionate pal if the actual factor is not obtainable, which compensates to some extent for the lack of a heartbeat subsequent to yours on the sofa. Even then, having an help robotic is just not mutually unique with having a real canine too. Then your canine can return to being your greatest pal – its job description for the final 24,900 years.

The College of Glasgow’s analysis robotic proven final week is aspiring to not solely develop particular abilities for help robots for the blind and partially sighted group, but in addition to repurpose these abilities to offer basically the identical robotic a future as a common function information for museums, buying facilities advert infinitum.

Yet one more distinction between V1.0 (the canine) and V2.0 (the robotic) is within the quantity of care the carer wants. Canine’s aren’t zero upkeep creatures. They require feeding (which is considerably extra expensive than electrical energy) and washing and brushing and like us all, they’ve waste merchandise.

The form factor of assistive robots will be easy to change. It's quite likely that Unitree's humanoid and B2 robots will also be used as platforms to assist the visually-impaired.
The shape issue of assistive robots might be straightforward to vary. It is fairly possible that Unitree’s humanoid and B2 robots may also be used as platforms to help the visually-impaired.


The robotic canine requires nearly no upkeep compared to canine or people, and if it does want something, it is going to be capable of inform you what the issue is, how a lot it’ll price to repair and what probably the most expedient answer is. Not like human beings who will all the time inform you they’re positive, your robotic will inform you when it is due for a go to to the robotic physician, and it’ll self-charge autonomously.

As beforehand talked about, there’s something concerning the emotional and bodily heat of a service canine that makes it as a lot companion as assistant however not all of that necessary issue might be misplaced within the transfer to a robotic platform.

With the inhabitants of the world growing older, and this phenomenon impacting some societies with older demographics greater than others, work has been underway for many years in Japan to make use of robots to mitigate the problems more likely to be confronted by older adults. The Japanese Authorities has been encouraging improvement of options for aged autonomy and care for many years (as this 15-year-old story I wrote whereas attending the Worldwide Robotics Expo in Tokyo explains), and a variety of Japan’s world-leading robotics R&D know-how is being directed accordingly.

NSK has been showing potential solutions for guide robots for the visually-impaired for some time. From left to right, that's NSK's 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the 2013 prototype lightweight LIGHBOT
NSK has been displaying potential options for information robots for the visually-impaired for a while. From left to proper, that is NSK’s 2011 NWR 002 prototype, the 2013 commercially-ready LIGHBOT and the 2013 prototype light-weight LIGHBOT

Companion robots to assist with the loneliness of the aged was close to the highest of the checklist for the creation of particular robotics, and the Japanese big NSK first confirmed robots for the visible impaired at Irex in 2009. A 2007 Japanese Authorities examine recognized that visible impairment affected greater than 1.64 million individuals in Japan and price round JPY8785.4 billion (US$72.8 billion) throughout the economic system, equal to 1.7 % of Japan’s gross home product.

Group take care of individuals with visible impairment was one of many largest elements of this price and with the Japanese inhabitants being one of many longest dwelling and the oldest on this planet, the event of information robots makes a variety of sense, notably contemplating that Japan can have commercialized its experience by the point different nations have to assist their growing older populations.

Unitree’s $1600 Go2 Quadruped Robotic will get embodied Synthetic Intelligence

There are actually a lot of corporations offering training, analysis and trade with appropriate robotic platforms, with Boston Robotics the longest standing on this latest area. You should buy Boston Robotic’s Spot, the corporate’s state-of-the-art robotic quadruped for $74,500, but it surely comes with no related information canine software program, a minimum of as but.

The provision and continued fast development of the requisite applied sciences as soon as the market begins, suggests we’ll have some very helpful assistants within the close to future, and simply as we noticed drone know-how progress from DARPA to toy outlets in a blink, robotic canine will nearly definitely turn out to be a hotly contested market within the close to future … and the logical first specialization resulting from that huge latent demand is more likely to be help robots for the impaired.

Simply eight months in the past we wrote concerning the insanely athletic $1,600 Go2 robotic canine from Unitree including a brand new GPT-powered dialog possibility and several other different important upgrades when it outmoded the earlier model, the $2,700 Go1 robotic canine.

College of Glasgow’s Roboguide

The University of Glasgow's Unitree-based quadruped will see duty in a variety of guide roles.
The College of Glasgow’s Unitree-based quadruped will see obligation in quite a lot of information roles.

College of Glasgow

The College of Glasgow has been working with the Unitree G01 platform for fairly a while now, particularly to develop information canine for blind and partially sighted individuals.

The platform for the challenge is Unitree’s USD $2,700 Go1 robotic that weighs 12 kg (26.5 lb), stands 40 cm (16 in) tall, and is 70 cm (28 in) from nostril to tail … or the place they’d be if it was an actual canine. Its aluminum chassis is armored with composite supplies and it may carry greater than half its personal weight as payload, with between and an hour and two hours per cost, relying on how a lot power it expends doing what you need it to do.

“One important disadvantage of many present four-legged, two-legged and wheeled robots is that the know-how which permits them to search out their means round can restrict their usefulness as assistants for the visually impaired,” stated Dr Olaoluwa Popoola, of the College of Glasgow’s James Watt College of Engineering, the challenge lead.

“Robots which use GPS to navigate, for instance, can carry out properly outside, however typically wrestle in indoor settings, the place sign protection can weaken. Others, which use cameras to ‘see’, are restricted by line of sight, which makes it more durable for them to securely information individuals round objects or round bends.”

The RoboGuide system below improvement by the College of Glasgow takes the present Unitree G01 robotic and provides a number of applied sciences plus software program that allow the robotic canine to raised map and negotiate indoors.

Unitree’s $100,000 60 KG B2 Robotic Canine

Do not let the diminutive 12 kg dimension of the Unitree Go1 robotic benchmark the final word potential of the system for you, because the purpose is to develop an entire system that may be tailored to be used with robots of all sizes and shapes to assist blind and partially sighted individuals in a variety of indoor conditions.

Past the G01 and G02 lineage, Unitree additionally has a a lot bigger dog-like robotic sequence – the $100,000 60 kg Unitree B2 is pictured above (at proper), and the corporate now additionally has a Humanoid robotic. That implies that the shape issue of the host robotic may evolve over time to supply completely different mobility options.

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