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Researchers Build $400 Self-Navigating Smart Cane

Taking the smart cane for a walk.

The augmented cane sports cutting-edge sensors, weighs only 3 pounds, can be built at home from off-the-shelf parts and free, open-source software, and costs $400.

Credit: Andrew Brodhead

Stanford University researchers have unveiled a $400 self-navigating robotic cane that can help visually impaired users detect and avoid obstacles.

Using tools similar to those used in autonomous vehicles, the cane incorporates LiDAR, global positioning system sensors, accelerometers, magnetometers, and gyroscopes with artificial intelligence-based wayfinding and robotic algorithms.

On its tip is a motorized, omnidirectional wheel that maintains contact with the ground, and can steer users by tugging and nudging the user around obstacles.

Said Stanford’s Mykel Kochenderfer, “We wanted to optimize this project for ease of replication and cost. Anyone can go and download all the code, bill of materials, and electronic schematics, all for free. Solder it up at home. Run our code. It’s pretty cool.”

From Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence
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