Carnegie Mellon University
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Assistive Robots for Blind Travelers
Head: M Bernardine Dias and Aaron Steinfeld
Contact: Ermine A. Teves
Mailing address:
Carnegie Mellon University
Robotics Institute
5000 Forbes Ave
Newell-Simon Hall 2104
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Associated center(s) / consortia:
 Field Robotics Center (FRC)
Associated lab(s) / group(s):
Project Homepage
As robotics technology evolves to a stage where co-robots, or robots that can work with humans, become a reality, we need to ensure that these co-robots are equally capable of interacting with humans with disabilities. This project addresses this challenge by exploring meaningful human-robot interaction (HRI) in the context of assistive robots for blind travelers.

The proposed work explores three research areas in the context of assistive robots for blind travelers:
  • Accessible Interfaces, which will be a crucial component of assistive robots
  • Assistive Interaction between humans and robots, which we envision happening both directly and remotely via accessible smartphone interfaces
  • Effective Cooperation, which will have to accommodate a variety of teaming options including human-robot teams, flexibility in teaming based on capabilities and resources, and also allow a range of connectedness and heterogeneity for the cooperating agents
Project work will begin with stakeholder interviews and task shadowing to help identify high value robot tasks and functional constraints.

We anticipate generating new knowledge on how to support interactions between co-robots and visually impaired travelers through this project. We also hope to make advances in the areas of multi-robot skill coordination and crowdsourcing assistance to robots, and to produce peer-review publications as well as infusions into classes and outreach programs.