The folks over at the University of Pennsylvania were one of the recipients of the Willow Garage PR2 robot giveaway program, last year, and now it looks like they’ve managed to program it into doing something useful. The engineers recently taught the robot how to read using the onboard camera in its head, a method to identify and separate text, and Tesseract optical character recognition (OCR) software to identify the words.
The robot nicknamed Graspy due to the fact that it was developed in the University’s GRASP (General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception) lab, does a pretty good job of reading aloud everything it sees, though it does occasionally miss words due to stylized typography. However, when it recognizes words (even handwriting is supported), it does a good job of reading it aloud even though the Microsoft Sam-ish voice could use a lot of work.
This isn’t the first time a robot has been taught to read, but the fact that they managed to implement the feature into a PR2 robot is pretty exciting – another addition to the list of things the robot has been taught to perform. Watch a video demonstration of the Graspy, the literate PR2 robot: