Robot suitcase uses AI to help visually impaired travelers

The AI suitcase will help people find the optimal travel route based on their location and map date, the group said in a release. The navigation robot will also use video and other sensor information to help people avoid obstacles, alert them to nearby stores and help with required actions, like joining a line.

The group was inspired by research conducted by IBM fellow Chieko Asakawa at Carnegie Mellon University on a navigation robot called CaBot, which is short for carry-on robot. Asakawa reportedly said she wants to make it possible for visually impaired individuals to walk around town alone freely and safely.

The researchers had 10 blind people evaluate CaBot and offer feedback on features like walking speed and haptics in the handle that convey directional feedback. “We found that CaBot’s performance highly exceeded users’ expectations, who often compared it to navigating with a guide dog or sighted guide,” researchers with Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute said in a report.