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Government awards to develop co-robots, if funds available

Government awards to develop co-robots, if funds available
SpacePRIDE Team members Mark Curry, right, answer questions from 8th grade Sullivan Middle School (Mass.) students about their robot at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Worcester, Mass. SpacePRIDE's robot team will compete for a $1.5 million NASA prize in the NASA-WPI Sample Return Robot Centennial Challenge at WPI. Teams have been challenged to build autonomous robots that can identify, collect and return samples. NASA needs autonomous robotic capability for future planetary exploration. UPI/Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (UPI) -- The U.S. government approved $2.4 million to develop innovative robots to work co-operatively with people with disabilities and to assist doctors.

One project is a co-robotic navigation aid for the visually impaired that has enhanced navigation capabilities and that can relay critical information about the environment to its user. Using computer vision, the proposed cane will be able to recognize indoor structures such as stairways and doors, as well as detect potential obstacles, said Cang Ye of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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The portable robotics would have many applications in military surveillance, law enforcement and search and rescue efforts, Ye said.

M. Cenk Cavusoglu of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland said the second project is a magnetic resonance imaging-guided co-robotic catheter that would improve current procedures for treating atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular heartbeat that can increase the risk of stroke.

By combining state-of-the art robotics with high-resolution, real-time imaging, the co-robotic catheter could significantly increase the accuracy and repeatability of the procedure.

Stephen G. Sawicki of North Carolina State University in Raleigh said the third project is a wearable robot to be used in patients recovering from stroke. The platform will allow investigators to systematically test various robotic control methods and to compare them based on measurable physiological outcomes.

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