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RFID-enabled robots could lead the blind

Marc Perton
robot guide dog

While we don't anticipate this project sending any guide dogs to Foster's Home for Retired Canines, we think that Professor Vladimir Kulyukin's project to create RFID-enabled "robot guide dogs" shows a lot of promise. A professor at Utah State University, Kulyukin's initial goal is to create RFID-enabled robot carts that can guide the blind through supermarkets. Armed with a voice-recognition system, the cart could lead a blind shopper through aisles of RFID-labeled products, tracking down the right ones on command. Of course, the system will only become practical as RFID tags become more common in retail environments, but thanks to our pals at Wal-Mart, that's a matter of when, not if. According to Kulyukin, the system's voice recognition has already improved; an early prototype mistook a man's throat-clearing as a request to go to the bathroom, and from that point on, the bot directed him there every time he cleared his throat.

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