Robots Helping the Blind to Navigate the World

Aug 24, 2015

Robots are slowly making their way into all applications and industries, including finding ways to help the visually impaired. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s TechBridgeWorld are exploring how the blind may be able to better explore urban environments with robots. With the continued advancement in technology, it is no surprise that these types of solutions are on the brink of creation.


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, Uni­ver­sal Robots, 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 Robots​.com a call at 8777626881, and learn how these robots can open a whole new world of automa­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties for your com­pa­ny. You can also reach rep­re­sen­ta­tives online.

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