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Prototypes of first Taiwan-developed robot dog make debut

05/29/2024 06:39 PM
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CNA photo May 29, 2024
CNA photo May 29, 2024

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) Taiwan cannot be left behind in developing robot dogs, which could ease labor shortages plaguing the country's industrial landscape, said the professor leading the team that has created Taiwan's first independently developed AI robot dog.

Kuo Chung-hsien (郭重顯), a professor with National Taiwan University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and head of the department's Autonomous & Soft Robotics Laboratory, demonstrated at a press event Wednesday prototypes of two kinds of robot dogs his team is working on.

One was for use as a pet, the other was for industrial use, Kuo said of the prototypes.

Robot dogs have been applied to different fields abroad, such as being used to inspect converter stations for an electrical grid firm in the United States, to inspect subway inspectors in Paris, or to spot traffic violations in Spain, Kuo said.

"Not many people in Taiwan, however, have made the effort to develop robot dogs and apply them to different landscapes," he said, likely because of the high costs of the robot and its maintenance and the lack of technology needed to customize the service.

Still, Kuo said, there was the need for Taiwan to develop its own robot dogs.

NTU Professor Kuo Chung-hsien. CNA photo May 29, 2024
NTU Professor Kuo Chung-hsien. CNA photo May 29, 2024

Having locally developed robot dogs would not only make them more affordable but also make them more suitable to customization and easier to maintain and upgrade locally, the professor said.

The robot dogs can be of particular help in Taiwan's non-tech and service sectors because their environments are not as well suited as high-tech factories to standard robots, which function better with flat floors for easy movement or fixed spaces for robotic arms, Kuo said.

While the dogs demonstrated at Wednesday's press event did not display impressive stunts, Kuo said the aim was to have them walk stairs and be ready for service sector applications by the end of this year.

"The short-term goal is to have them deliver meals in a restaurant with stairs, and undertake autonomous inspections with AI support on trains and tracks or in a factory," Kuo said.

"The long-term goal is to apply them in challenging fields, such as in disaster rescue or for chemical factory inspections," he said, noting that robot dogs used to inspect chemical facilities need explosion-proof certification.

CNA photo May 29, 2024
CNA photo May 29, 2024

Some major corporations making robot dogs that do stunning tricks use customized motors, a critical part of a robot, but Kuo said the motors his team has used are not, and he felt there was an opportunity in this area to work with Taiwanese companies in the future.

(By Alison Hsiao)

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Source: Chung-Hsien Kuo
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