While guide dogs have been around for awhile to guide humans who can’t see, they can’t be used all the time – i.e. when entering hazardous areas like burning buildings covered by smoke. Well the folks over in King’s College London and Thales are developing a semi-autonomous robot that will have sensory capabilities that can be shared with humans. These robots will communicate with humans via reins, sending feedback such as vibrations or waves to inform humans of what’s ahead of them, and which way to go. For firemen who have to enter buildings full of smoke, having a robot that can guide them to unobstructed paths can save them valuable time which could spell the difference between life and death for a person trapped in a room. The robots will use complex and advanced algorithms to detect unseen objects in the smoke and will let them know if something can be moved out of the way or not. Other uses for these seeing robots would be to aid the lives of visually handicapped as well, provided the robots become commercially viable in the future. In the end, the aim of the project is to come up with a robot that humans can put their trust in when the situation calls for it. Would you trust a seeing-eye robot over a seeing-eye dog?
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