By Selin Alara Ornek
IC4U3 (I see for you - 3rd Version) is a robot guide dog for visually impaired people
Type: Social Impact
What inspired you or what is the idea that got you started?
The idea of building IC4U all started when I was 8. My dog Korsan died, and I was really upset. Afterward, when I was on holiday with my family, I saw a blind person and their guide dog. I thought that if I were so sad to lose Korsan, they would be upset, too, as they would lose their best friend and their eyes again. So, I decided to build ic4u a robot guide dog for blind people.
What is your project about and how does it work?
My project is IC4U, a robot guide dog for visually impaired people. A visually impaired person can give IC4U3 voice commands(forward, backward, left, etc.) for it to move and also for it to sit, lay and stand up. The visually impaired person can also chat with IC4U3 via Dialogflow.
In action, while moving on the road, there might be dangerous circumstances. For example, an obstacle in the way. In those circumstances, a guide dog must learn not to obey the blind person's command, become intelligently disobedient, and instead take action accordingly and autonomously. So I added sound sensors as its ears so that IC4U3 would first hear a sound and turns its head to look in that direction to process the object. However, just hearing the sound is not enough, so I also added a ZED 2i Wide-Angle 3D AI Camera so that it could detect the object with a wider angle and so that it would be able to detect the size and speed of the object more accurately and intelligently.
What did you learn by doing this project?
I learned about how everything doesn't go to plan but to never give and do your best to overcome the challenges. I found it very frustrating that a code that worked the day before sometimes doesn't work the next day. I learned how easy it is to blow up parts but not as easy to renew them and find the resources to do so, especially when you are only a teenager. Through working on this project, I developed my skills in coding, artificial intelligence, machine learning, mechanics, electronics, and robotics. Most of all, I learned how good it feels to build something that works to help others.
What impact does your project have on others as well as yourself?
I hope in the future that my robot dog will help visually impaired people to live a better and easier life. Not everyone is fortunate to have a guide dog as they are expensive and time-consuming to train. So with IC4U3, I hope that more visually impaired people will be able to have a "robot" guide dog which means they will have more independence.
I enjoy using technology, especially AI, for social good to make the world a better place for every living being. Seeing one of my robots accomplishing my dream would make me extremely happy.