To improve the quality of life of people with some type of visual impairment, a startup in Espírito Santo, Vixsystem, works on the design of a guide robot. Nicknamed Lysa, the robot will have a GPS attached to its platform and will be able to access a navigation tool, such as Google Maps, to define the trajectory and the navigation plan for the user to move around.
Worldwide, there are more than 940 million people with some degree of visual loss, of which about 216.6 million had moderate or severe visual impairment and 36 million had total blindness, according to data from 2015. It is worth remembering that disability or loss visual is the absence or severe and irreversible decrease in visual function, a condition that cannot be corrected with lenses or surgery.
In general, these people with some degree of blindness have difficulties in basic daily tasks, especially in commuting. In some cases, guide dogs are adopted to increase the mobility of these individuals, but these dogs are difficult to train and the availability is less than necessary to meet all demand. That is why the new assistive technology can be so beneficial.
Challenges for the construction of the Lysa guide robot
The expectation of the project is that the robot helps, mainly, the visually impaired in its locomotion, eliminating risks of accidents, for example. For now, the main objective is the development of the robot’s outdoor navigation, since it is expected that it will be able to search for the coordinates, latitude and longitude, of a previously selected location, trace a trajectory and guide the user safely to the destination. .
In other words, the initiative aims to expand the autonomy of visually impaired patients. In pursuit of this objective, the Lysa robot team investigates the application of new accessibility features, through the use of GPS, and the study of obstacles in various angles. In addition, one concern is auditory communication with the disabled.
Another challenge will be to warn the user of any unimaginable risks and dangers of an external environment. Before the model is tested on a street, for example, the team will need to carry out an intense series of tests in controlled environments, such as a room or in the user’s own home.
Public funding for innovation
The public notice that will allow research for the development of the Lysa guide robot was launched by FAPESP in collaboration with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovations (MCTI), the Ministry of Communications (MCom) and the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil (CGI .br). “Support for the project is essential for the improvement of the Lysa robot, an equipment that is unprecedented in the world. The impact of this innovation will contribute to improving the mobility of people with disabilities, who represent a large portion of the population ”, explains Nedinalva de Araújo Sellin, executive director of Vixsystem.
The idea is that other initiatives can also be developed from the research aid program, such as the project of the information security company Kryptus, from Campinas (São Paulo), and from the Technological Center of the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) which seeks to increase the security of the interfaces.
In fact, a third call is open until the first of July this year for researchers who have a job with a public or private institution, non-profit, higher education or national research, who also work in areas of research for development from Internet. The full notice can be accessed here.