Walking Pet Robots Made Easy with a Leash
Dog owners have not yet replaced man's best friend with robotic companions, but scientists have created a specially-designed leash can help humans keep robots under control.
The leash gives future robot owners an easy, intuitive way to control their robotic helpers, according to Hack a Day. Even better, the robot won't go chasing after skateboarders or scrounging food scraps left on the ground.
A video shows tests where volunteers took a four-wheeled robot on a "walk" with a leash designed by Canadian and Japanese researchers. The leash connects to a sensor-packed turret that allows the robot to sense directional tugs, as in cases where the human walked in front of the robot.
When the person stops, the robot stops. When the person moves, the robot follows. Such tame behavior might even put most dogs to shame.
But the spring-filled leash also lets the bot keep a safe distance from the user if it senses the leash shortening, such as in cases where a human walks behind the robot. Volunteer robot-walkers preferred that method the best, because they could see the robot and had the best sense of control.
The robot had more trouble navigating around obstacles such as boxes or cones when it wasn't either directly in front or behind the person. In that sense, Fido may still have several legs up over the robotic competition.
Then again, no dog model has an emergency kill switch on their leash handle.