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Meet Tefi, the robot dog capable of guiding blind people or people with Alzheimer’s

Researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in Madrid have created a dog-robot equipped with a sophisticated system of artificial intelligence Able to guide dependent or disabled people.

Among its multiple features, its ability to unequivocally distinguish between an object and a person stands out, thanks to its automatic learning system and the camera that it has built into its head, and by being connected to Google, the robot can know in real time the traffic situation and communicate it to its owner or other people by voice.

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Although its metallic appearance and its sudden and millimeter movements keep it from looking like an animal, its creators were inspired by guide dogs when they began to think about the possibilities of the robot, named “Tefi”, which responds to the initials of the Institute of Physical and Information Technologies (ITEFI) of the CSIC where it has been designed.

The CSIC has reported today that the robot has a GPS system for outdoor navigation and takes advantage of tools such as Google Maps to guide to different places, such as shops, restaurants and hospitals.

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Likewise, the researchers have implemented artificial vision algorithms that help their navigation and the identification of certain objects, such as traffic signs, traffic lights, streets, people, chairs, tables, computers or QR code information.

Apart from its usefulness in guiding the blind, its creators have highlighted its potential when it comes to assisting elderly people with dementia or Alzheimer’s patients.

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In addition to notifying her owner of the time she has a doctor’s appointment, Tefi is able to guide him directly to the office using only a map of the building that she can obtain if it is accessible; and thanks to its connection to the mobile phone network, the robot can also request a taxi so that the patient does not have to worry about anything”, explained the researcher Gerardo Portilla, PhD student in Robotics and “father” of this robotic dog.

Its quadrupedal shape makes it suitable for moving in any environment, even on stairs, and it is capable of doing a backflip.

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The researcher has explained that the “dog” is very robust and dynamic in rugged environments and much cheaper than a guide dog; and that automatic driving for guidance has already been developed, as well as the necessary artificial intelligence for the detection of objects, people and signaling.

The robot can communicate by voice with the person to carry out the tasks that are requested and can also tell what it sees through its camera and the information it receives from the Internet.

So far, the researchers have carried out different navigation tests inside the Institute and have verified that the robot is capable of guiding the user to different areas of the building with voice commands, and the scientists hope to start testing how it orients itself soon. Tefi outside, where the atmosphere is more dynamic.

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The application that this robot has is above all social, and that is what differentiates it from the dog of the American company Boston Dynamics, which was designed for industrial purposes; Obviously, it will never replace an animal, which provides companionship and affection, but the range of possibilities and applications is quite wide.”, stated Francisco Montero de Espinosa, a CSIC researcher at the same center.

Although Tefi’s design is still preliminary, the researchers hope to be able to install sensors in a short period of time that can detect warning signs, such as high blood pressure or the presence of volatile chemical agents in a home.

Source: Elcomercio

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