Animals Get Along Well With IoT Robots

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Animals Get Along Well With IoT Robots

To ensure that the IoT Robots don’t cause any hardships for people with visual impairments, Starship teamed up with UK charity Guide Dogs for the Blind on a pilot project to see what happens when guide dogs encounter Starship’s robots in public. The two companies have conducted a series of tests exploring how service animals interact with robots.
In most countries, guide dogs undergo rigorous training that enables them to steer their human partner through their daily life and, crucially, public spaces.
Among other things, they are trained to walk centrally along pavements, to avoid obstacles, to not turn corners unless told, to stop at kerbs and steps, to judge height and width, to navigate traffic, to guide their human partners across roads, and to find doors, crossings and places that are visited often.
Because of the always-on nature of a working guide dog, interaction between the animals and sighted people is strongly discouraged. However, as autonomous robots and vehicles become a more accepted part of daily life in the UK, the effect of the technology on guide dogs and how the two entities interact will need to be assessed and accounted for.
For the project, a dog would set out with its owner or trainer on a typical daily activity. Along the way, it would meet one of Starship’s delivery robots. No matter how the bot approached the dogs — head on, from the rear, at a road crossing — the animals never reacted in a negative way. Most just stopped and waited for the bot to approach.

Technology is constantly changing our environment and the way we live, so it’s vital that Guide Dogs as an organisation leads the way in shaping that environment for people with a vision impairment,

John Welsman, Policy Lead, Travel, and Mobility at Guide Dogs, told The Evening Standard.We believe that autonomous delivery can play an important role in supporting all individuals within communities by making people’s lives more convenient, including the visually impaired,” added Starship CEO Lex Bayer.

Working seamlessly alongside residents is a top priority for us, and we are continually looking at ways to enhance our services by engaging with organisations such as Guide Dogs to do just this

, he said.
The project saw guide dogs accompanied by their human partners and trainers encounter Starship’s autonomous delivery IoT robots in live scenarios, including meeting from the front and rear, overtaking one another, and heading towards one another at a pedestrian crossing.
During the tests, all of the dogs reacted appropriately and calmly to the robots, with most stopping before the robot approached, and no adverse reactions were recorded. This is in-line with data Starship already holds on how regular dogs react to its robots.

Author: Tim Cole
Image Credit: COMP

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