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Robots Helping the Blind to Navigate the World

 

Imagine trying to successfully navigate through an urban area for the first time – waiting at a crosswalk, finding the right streets, and trying to not get lost in the process. Now, imagine trying to do it blind. It makes a difficult situation seem almost impossible, right? Maybe not for long.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s TechBridgeWorld are trying to figure out how to make the world more accessible to the blind. According to Robotic Trends, CMU is experimenting with a collaborative robot, Baxter, to explore how those who are visually impaired can better explore urban environments – a situation which can be scary. Researchers believe that in the future, Baxter may be able to work in collaboration with mobile robot networks to help guide the blind through their daily lives outside of their familiar surroundings.

A lot of blind people are afraid to explore unfamiliar places because they are afraid of getting lost, M. Bernardine Dias, professor at CMU and founder of TechBridgeWorld, said in an article for Robotic Trends. Right now, Dias and his colleagues are researching the best way for Baxter to interact with visually impaired people and best help them get where they need to go. One thing they are experimenting with at the moment is Baxter’s ability to see the difference between two bus tickets, which will help blind people get to the right place.

This technology may be a couple of years or decades away, but it brings hope to the 285 million visually impaired people worldwide.

Collaborative robots like Baxter, robots that are able to work hand in hand with humans, are becoming more common the industrial field as well. Companies like FANUC, ABB, Motoman, and KUKA are manufacturing their own collaborative robots that can work alongside factory workers safely and efficiently, saving manufacturers time and money.

Are you interested in learning more about collaborative robots? Give RobotWorx a call at 740-251-4312, and learn how these robots can open a whole new world of automation possibilities for your company.