Just a quick update on the 3Spheres Robotics Project…
Last week we completed our first simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) trial at a Developmental Disabilities Association (DDA) group home, using our robot prototype. Here is what the robot saw in 2D (Black is an obstacle like a wall or furniture, white is open space, grey is the unobserved area):
The reaction by the DDA group home clients was delightful. They thought it was great fun! The initial experience supports our hypothesis that the introduction of robots into a group home environment could have significant “quality of life” effects for clients, beyond the benefits of client monitoring… perhaps the “social impact” use cases are even more important than we first thought. Maybe we have stumbled on to something more profound. Alanna Hendren (DDA) thinks “…robots have huge potential re: combating social isolation and for entertaining – they could even learn how to make each person laugh!” SFU Surrey is quite interested in this aspect of the research.
UBC and JDQ submitted our first Engage grant application to NSERC this week. This will help us improve on the SLAM mapping and start the “dynamic obstacle avoidance” navigation use cases. The joint UBC/SFU Mitacs Accelerate Cluster grant for the project is just about ready and will include 6 doctoral/post-doctoral paid internships working on navigation, computer vision, speech recognition and human interaction use cases.
JDQ and BCIT are gearing up to create a new Social Robotics Pop-up Lab (ROBOpop), this fall, mirrored on a successful initiative in Amsterdam. http://test.vazdias.nl/ Stay tuned.