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Robot Service Dogs

Charlie Kemp is a Georgia Tech professor and robotics researcher. He is also dog father to a Goldendoodle named Daisy. Since getting Daisy his work...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Oct 31st 2008


Charlie Kemp is a Georgia Tech professor and robotics researcher. He is also dog father to a Goldendoodle named Daisy.

Since getting Daisy his work has been going to the dogs, literally. Kemp and his colleagues are working on developing a robot dog that could perform the same functions as a service dog.

At a skinny 5 feet 7 inches, with wheels instead of paws, their robodog named El-E (pronounced “Ellie”) doesn’t look anything like a real dog.

But El-E can open doors and cabinets, fetch dropped objects and do other service dog functions — all without ever needing to eat or relieve itself.

Ultimately, Kemp and co-researchers plan to train El-E to do things not even highly skilled service dogs can do, such as dial a cellphone for help or relay information about its companion’s condition to a doctor.

Robots do serve many functions in society, so I can see this as a logical next step. Of course there would be no tail wags, unconditional love, and it isn’t easy to snuggle up next to a robot. On the flip side, for those that may have trouble physically or financially caring for a dog it may be a good option, time will tell.

* The pic above is dubbed BigDog, being developed by Boston Dynamics.

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