IC4U ver.01 - Robot Guide Dog for Visually Impaired People
Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend never had a dog. My best friend was Korsan, a brown Cocker Spaniel. Sadly, when I was eight, he passed away, and I was heartbroken.
Then, while on holiday in France, I saw a guide dog with its visually impaired owner. My parents explained how a guide dog helps visually impaired people daily. I loved the idea that dogs could help people; however, it made me think of Korsan, and how sad I was when he died. I thought that if I had been so upset how would a blind person feel when they lost their dog? Not only would they lose their best friend, but they would also lose their eyes again.
So, I decided to build iC4U, a robot guide dog. Before I started to build iC4U, I decided which features I would like to add, so I contacted the guide dog associations in the United States and the United Kingdom. They were amazing and answered all my questions. I learned how guide dogs train, behave, and their relationship with visually impaired people. A guide dog needs to obey the commands of the blind person, learn to navigate, and have intelligent disobedience. The guide dog needs to;
- Adjust its speed and movement in the right direction, if there is an obstacle in its path it changes direction,
- Navigates from A to B (on familiar routes)
- In dangerous circumstances, IC4U must learn not to obey the blind person’s command, become intelligently disobedient, and take action accordingly and autonomously.
I immediately started to integrate these features into IC4U. I built the first version in 2018 with Arduino Uno.
A visually impaired person can give voice commands to control IC4U via a mobile app. As I had limited knowledge, I integrated the intelligent disobedience ability with the help of sensors. To detect obstacles, I used an ultrasonic sensor in IC4U’s eyes. When an obstacle is detected, IC4U comes to a stop. IC4U also includes a gas and rain sensor. When IC4U detects a fire, gas, or rain, it notifies the visually impaired individual via phone notifications and a buzzer.
I equiped IC4U with the Adafruit GPS/GPRS Shield. Using the MQTT protocol, I linked the shield to the Adafruit IO service. This feature made it possible to track the location of the visually impaired person on a map as well as the battery status and warnings of IC4U.
IC4U and I won first place in the Hardware Category in Coolest Projects Showcase 2018 – Dublin, Ireland.