Robotic Seeing-Eye Dog

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To help grant the blind greater independence in life skills, three Boys Town Jerusalem students have devoted their senior project to harness technology–and the “artificial intelligence” of robots”to produce a robotic seeing-eye dog. Menashe Mondaneh, Lior Or-Hayim and Oriel Manzur, who majored in Comprehensive Interdisciplinary Technology (CIT), combined their knowledge of electronics, computer programming and mechanics to build the autonomous robot.

Equipped with a camera, distance sensors and a precision-programmed microcontroller, the lightweight motorized robot moves alongside the blind person as he or she walks. At a street crossing, the robot-much like his canine cohort-scans the area for oncoming traffic. The camera rotates to continually film objects within a 14-yard radius, as the digital data is simultaneously fed to the microcontroller. Within mere seconds, the data is decoded and analyzed, tracking the motion of objects identified as vehicles.

When the data shows that the street is clear of moving vehicles, the robot alerts his master that they can safely cross. In addition to the camera images, the robot automatically receives signals from its distance sensors, mapping out the physical state of the surrounding area and helping the blind person to avoid obstacles. In future, a GPS device could be added to allow the individual to set out for a target location, led smoothly by the eyes, brain and wheels of his robotic best friend.

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