Meet MiRO: The robot dog with a mind of its own

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.

Images courtesy of Consequential Robotics

Images courtesy of Consequential Robotics

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.

MiRO1

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.

Using CRISPR, UK scientists edit DNA of human embryos

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Source: BBC

Tesla and AMD developing AI chip for self-driving cars

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Source: CNBC

Synthetic muscle developed that can lift 1,000 times its own weight

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Source: Telegraph

Head of AI at Google criticises "AI apocalypse" scaremongering

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Source: CNBC

Scientists engineer antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains

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Source: BBC

Facebook has a plan to stop fake news from influencing elections

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Renault unveils unorthodox ‘car of the future’: a dockable, peanut-shaped driverless pod

Renault has unveiled its take on the car of the future: a peanut-shaped, mulit-directional driverless vehicle that is capable of docking into a train of vehicles.

Designed by Yuchen Cai, a student of Central St Martins’ MA in Industrial Design, the vehicle is the winning design in competition run between Renault and the prestigious design school, and was honed during a two-week stay at Renault’s Paris studio by Cai this summer.

Dubbed The Float, the vehicle was unveiled today at DesignJunction, a four-day design event that kicked off today in London.

“Everyone has accepted that cars will be part of the sharing economy in the future – that’s what’s going to happen,” said Will Sorrel, event director of DesignJunction, this morning.

“This takes it one step further and these pods are this peanut shape so they can join together, so the autonomous vehicles can link up and join together if they’re going in the same direction, conserving energy.”

The Float by Yuchen Cai, winner of the Renault and Central Saint Martins, UAL competition

The Float is rather unusually designed to run using magnetic levitation – known more commonly as maglev – and would be capable of moving in any direction, eliminating the need for tedious three-point turns.

Made entirely of glass, the vehicle is designed to have sliding doors. Two bucket-style seats enable up to two passengers to travel per pod, and swivel mechanism ensures easy departure from the pods.

When the vehicle is docked to another, however, the passengers aren’t just stuck grimacing at each other through glass. Instead passengers can rotate their seats using built-in controls and power up a sound system that allows them to talk to the pod next door.

Those who are feeling less sociable can change the opacity of the glass, ensuring privacy when their neighbours are not so appealing to communicate with.

The Float is also designed to be paired with a smartphone app, through which would-be passengers could hail a vehicle as required.

“Central Saint Martins’ Industrial Design students really took this on board when creating their vision of the future,” said Anthony Lo, Renault’s  vice-president of exterior design and one of the competition judges. “Yuchen’s winning design was particularly interesting thanks to its use of Maglev technology and its tessellated design. It was a pleasure to have her at the Renault design studios and see her vision come to life.”

“From a technological viewpoint, the prospect of vehicle autonomy is fascinating, but it’s also critical to hold in mind that such opportunities also present significant challenges to how people interact and their experience of future cities,” added Nick Rhodes, Central Saint Martins programme director of product ceramic & industrial design.

“Recognition of the success of the projects here lies in their ability to describe broader conceptions of what driverless vehicles might become and how we may come to live with them.”