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Hey Look, It's a Kinect-Enabled Robot Seeing-Eye Dog

Japanese manufacturer NSK has been working on robot dogs for a while now. Why? Why not. The most recent addition to there newest model of the robo-pet is, you guessed it, a Kinect. By having the Kinect mounted on its head, the robo-dog improves on previous versions built in conjunction with the University of Electro-Communications and can recognize (and climb) things like stairs, no small feat for a robot.

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The robo-dog moves pretty slowly, but it seems mighty sure-footed and deliberate. While you probably can’t expect robotic dogs to be adopted as common assistants for the blind anytime soon, the advantages are clear. In the videos below, you can see that the test subject is able to literally lean on the robo-dog for support, a handy feature real dogs don’t have. It also doesn’t have to eat, or be trained, or be kept happy or anything. Also, you could totally retrofit it with rockets or something.

On the other hand, robo-dog here is huge, slow, expensive, power intensive, probably more prone to malfunction, and way less cute than your average puppy, so there’s also that. All that aside, NSK hopes that maybe they can start selling the dogbot by 2020 or so, at which point it will probably accept voice commands and have an integrated GPS.

This is a pretty cool step for robots that can accurately navigate in the real world, something that is way harder than most of us meatbags appreciate, and it is always cool to see the Kinect being put to use doing crazy things. I doubt that any sort of dogbot will ever be preferable to, you know, an actual dog.

(via Engadget)

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