Though several laboratories have been doing work on robodogs, Boston Dynamics among them with their all-electric Spot, scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics (MPCR) Laboratory are ahead of their curve.
FAU’s intelligent robodog, Astro, features a 3D-printed head designed after a Doberman pinscher that contains a computerized brain.
What sets Astro apart is that he doesn’t just look like and act like a dog; he’s also trained through deep neural network to learn like a dog would from experience and to perform real-life tasks.
His equipment from radar imaging to cameras to built-in sensors to a directional microphone help him to respond to commands like “sit,” “roll over,” and “come” like a real dog would respond.
The scientists at FAU also hope that one day, Astro will have the ability to detect different colors, recognize other dogs, detect human faces, understand hand signals, comprehend multiple languages, and coordinate with drones.
Currently, Astro is able to navigate rough terrains and respond to dangerous situations. He will be able to help police, security personnel, and military by sniffing out guns and explosives.
He will also be able to search faces in a database at a rapid pace, hear distress calls that our ears never would, and sniff out foreign substances.
“Astro is inspired by the human brain and he has come to life through machine learning and artificial intelligence, which is proving to be an invaluable resource in helping to solve some of the world’s most complex problems,” Ata Sarajedini, dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, said in a statement.
The scientists also hope to eventually program Astro to provide medical diagnostic monitoring or work as a service dog for the visually impaired.