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Doing a Bamboozle: Meet Astro, the Robodog 'Inspired' by the Human Brain

'Eventually, he will be able to understand and respond to hand signals, detect different colors, comprehend many languages, coordinate his efforts with drones, distinguish human faces, and even recognize other dogs,' the FAU statement said.

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Updated:August 22, 2019, 9:16 AM IST
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Doing a Bamboozle: Meet Astro, the Robodog 'Inspired' by the Human Brain
Screenshot from video uploaded by Florida Atlantic University / YouTube.
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Drawing inspiration from the human brain, scientists have developed a “four-legged seeing and hearing intelligent robodog.”

In a statement, the Florida Atlantic University said ‘Astro’ could be called a result of combining “Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa with Boston Dynamic’s quadruped robots.”

“Scientists from Florida Atlantic University’s Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Laboratory (MPCR) in the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science are bringing to life one of about a handful of these quadruped robots in the world. Astro is unique because he is the only one of these robots with a head, 3D printed to resemble a Doberman pinscher, that contains a (computerized) brain,” the statement said.

The human brains behind Astro are a team of neuroscientists, IT experts, artists, biologists, psychologists, high school students and undergraduate and graduate students at FAU.

“Our Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics laboratory team was sought out by Drone Data’s Astro Robotics group because of their extensive expertise in cognitive neuroscience, which includes behavioral, neurophysiological and embedded computational approaches to studying the brain,” said Ata Sarajedini, Ph.D., dean of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science.

“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.”

Astro doesn’t just bear a striking resemblance to dogs but also learns like one because “he doesn’t operate based on preprogrammed robotic automation.”

Instead, Astro is being trained using a computerized simulation of a brain, so that he can learn from experience to perform human-like tasks, or on his case, “doggie-like” tasks, that benefits humanity.

The 100-pound super robot is still a “puppy-in-training,” the scientists said.

Equipped with sensors, high-tech radar imaging, cameras, and a directional microphone, Astro responds to commands such as “sit,” “stand” and “lie down.”

“Eventually, he will be able to understand and respond to hand signals, detect different colors, comprehend many languages, coordinate his efforts with drones, distinguish human faces, and even recognize other dogs,” the statement said.

Astro’s “key missions will include detecting guns, explosives and gun residue to assist police, the military, and security personnel.”

The robodog can also be programmed to assist as a service dog for the visually impaired or to provide medical diagnostic monitoring.

Astro is also receiving training to serve as a first responder for search and rescue missions such as hurricane reconnaissance as well as military maneuvers.

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