Astro, the Smart Robodog Engineered with an AI Brain

In today’s world, consumers have access to smart artificially intelligent voice assistants such as Google’s voice assistant, Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri to name a few. Although these voice assistants are made using deep-learning algorithms which allow them to learn and provide suggestions from our habits, activities, favourites, etc. there is still only so much you can do with a voice assistant. Voice assistants aren't physical robots, so they can only perform tasks that are exclusively limited to functions on your phone. However, this may all change with the introduction of one of the world’s first physical smart AI (robodog) assistant. Meet Astro, ‘robodog’ which is essentially your voice assistant in real life.

Through integrating a variety of complex deep learning and other AI algorithms, the deep-learning and AI, scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Laboratory (MPCR) in FAU’s College of Science unveiled the quad-legged robot. The robodog’s head which contains the (computerised) brain is made using a 3D printer and resembles the head of a Doberman.

Astro is not just a pre-programmed robodog but learns from experiences, activities and actions through deep-learning (neural network) algorithms which essentially mimics a human brain. Astro also comes equipped with sensors, radar imaging, 360˚ microphone and multiple cameras. Astro can see, hear, respond and act on commands. Like any dog, Astro will respond accordingly to a given command like “sit” and “catch”. Astro is also capable of differentiating between different faces, voices, objects and animals over time.

Astro can respond to hand gestures, commands and is capable of learning faces and voices.

Astro can respond to hand gestures, commands and is capable of learning faces and voices.

Astro’s capabilities are not just limited to being a house dog, but extend to a variety of uses such as a guard dog for the blind, a military dog for police forces and suitable for search and rescue missions. This means that Astro is able to detect guns, gunpowder, explosives and residue to assist military forces in scout missions.

“Astro is inspired by the human brain and he has come to life through machine learning and artificial intelligence, which is proving to be an invaluable resource in helping to solve some of the world’s most complex problems.” says Ata Sarajedini, PhD, dean of FAU’s College of Science.

With all that being said, artificial intelligence has continuously proven its capabilities. With advancements in AI such as the invention of this smart Robodog, we will soon see the rise of many more smart robot assistants. Smart assistants such as Siri and Alexa vastly improve the quality and ease of life for many people by getting simple tasks done. However, with the development of much more complex artificial intelligence systems, we may see a day where smart robot assistants will be capable of carrying out a variety of more intricate actions.

Zacharia Sharif