[Athen] Georgia Researchers Teach a Robot a Service Dog's Tasks

Dann Berkowitz dann at digilifemedia.biz
Wed Nov 5 05:21:24 PST 2008


Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have created a robot, named El-E, that can perform 10 of the 70-plus tasks that service dogs normally perform for people with physical impairments.

Like a service dog, El-E can heed voice commands. But instead of watching a human’s gestures for visual clues to accompany each command, the robot follows a laser-pointer beam to learn what object the command refers to. The laser might point, for instance, to a door handle to be opened, or an item to be brought to the person delivering the command.

Charles C. Kemp, an assistant professor biomedical engineering at Georgia Tech, is director of the Healthcare Robotics Lab, which developed the robot (the lab is a joint undertaking between Georgia Tech and Emory University). Mr. Kemp says his team studied a golden retriever named Betty for clues in creating the robot. He notes that while a robot can’t provide the companionship that a dog offers, people who need service dogs currently face “a multi-year waiting list,” in part because the dogs require lengthy, expensive training.

A video about El-E is available online.

Daniel Berkowitz
Digilife Media, LLC
1 Bryant Avenue
Bradford, MA 01835-7424

phone:  978-914-4601
e-mail: dann at digilifemedia.biz
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