Industry News

Read interesting and informative stories relevant to systems engineering, construction, project management and more.

Robotic Guide Dogs for the Visually Impaired


Gail Gunn and her guide dog (Image credit: Zinj Guo)

Innovative research at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is paving the way for the development of robotic guide dogs that could significantly aid visually impaired individuals. This effort, led by Assistant Professor Donghyun Kim from the Manning College of Information and Computer Science, emphasizes the crucial role of feedback from actual users and trainers of guide dogs. The findings, which were awarded the Best Paper Award at CHI 2024, emphasize designing robotic guide dogs that complement the specific needs and preferences of their users.

The study involved detailed discussions with both visually impaired users and trainers to understand the practical requirements and limitations of traditional canine guide dogs. The researchers discovered that while guide dogs provide significant autonomy, their availability is limited by factors like high training costs and the physical demands of caring for a dog. In response, robotic guide dogs could offer a practical alternative, provided their design effectively addresses real-world challenges.

Donghyun Kim, Ivan Lee, Gail Gunn with her guide dog, and Hochul Hwang (Image credit: Zinj Guo)

Kim’s team identified that a successful robotic guide dog must balance autonomy with user control. Unlike a traditional autonomous vehicle that navigates on its own, a guide dog, whether biological or mechanical, must work in tandem with the handler’s inputs, focusing on tasks like obstacle avoidance and safe navigation through familiar routes.

The research also highlighted essential design features for these robots, such as extended battery life for lengthy commutes, advanced sensory equipment to detect overhead obstacles, and user-friendly interfaces for more intuitive interaction between the robot and the handler.

Robotic guide dog (Image credit: Zinj Guo)

This award-winning research not only advances the field of human-robot interaction but also serves as a foundational work for future developers, aiming to create practical and deployable robotic assistants for visually impaired individuals. The study underlines the importance of incorporating direct input from end-users to ensure that the technological solutions developed are both effective and genuinely enhance the users’ quality of life.


Westbrook, Julia 2024, ‘TO OPTIMIZE GUIDE-DOG ROBOTS, FIRST LISTEN TO THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED’, University of Massachusetts Amherst, viewed 28th May 2024, <>


Gain concepts and principles that will take your career to another level with PPI training!




FREE Monthly SE Industry News?

Why Recognition of Profit, not Imposition of Process, Will Ultimately Bring Systems Engineering Into Common Usage

What Factors Hold Back the Widespread Practice of Systems Engineering? Randall Iliff explores this fascinating question in the April 2023 issue of PPI SyEN. His perspective as a founding member of INCOSE and current PPI Principal Consultant offers unusual clarity regarding the challenges we face […]

Scroll to Top