Attendees of the International Conference on Robotics and Automation will this week meet MiRO: the robotic pet dog that has been built to provide the elderly with company.
MiRO – designed by Consequential Robotics – looks and behaves like a pet dog, and has six ‘senses’ including touch sensitivity, light sensitivity, stereo eyesight and sharp hearing.
The robot dog uses a sonar sense, like bats and dolphins, to help navigate its surroundings, and MiRO’s cliff sensors help to ensure that it does not fall off a table or down a flight of stairs.
“At the heart of our approach is human-centred design – understanding the practical needs of our users as well as their emotional wants and dreams,” said designer, Sebastian Conran.
Consequential Robotics is the result of a collaboration between the award-winning designer Sebastian Conran, as well as Professor Tony Prescott and Dr Ben Mitchinson from the University of Sheffield.
The company’s main focus will be to develop companion and assistive robotic systems that will enhance quality of life for people as they age.
Professor Tony Prescott said: “Consequential Robotics builds on a scientific approach to robot design that we have been developing in Sheffield for more than two decades and that is based on our understanding natural intelligence in animals and people. We use ideas from psychology and neuroscience to help design future robots to be more useful and more life-like.”
“MiRO, our first product, is a step towards developing companion robots – the future robots that will share our personal spaces, provide entertainment and social interaction, and enhance our quality of life,” said Prescott.
Although the long-term plan is for MiRO to be a companion robot, initially the robot will be marketed to researchers who are interested in developing companion robots and to universities doing research in robotics or offering training in robot programming.
““Consequential Robotics addresses one of the fast growing emerging markets – companion and assistive robotics – thanks to its unique capability of combining world-leading psychology research with renowned award-winning design,” said Aidong Xu, director of New Business & Partnerships at IP Group, the University of Sheffield’s intellectual property commercialisation partner.