The eyeRobot

Where: USA

Year: 2007

Few lines description: Nate Barshay prototyped the device, called eyeRobot, using and hacking the existing iRobot Roomba. EyeRobot guides blind and visually impaired users through cluttered and populated environments. The user indicates his/her desired motion by intuitively pushing on and twisting the handle. The robot takes this information and finds a clear path down a hallway or across a room, using sonar to steer the user in a suitable direction around static and dynamic obstacles. It is also a relatively simple machine, requiring a few inexpensive sensors, various potentiometers, some hardware, and of course, a Roomba Create.

How is it open?

  • The project is downloadable on platform under the licence Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.5). Anyone can download all the necessary elements for building it. Anyone can download the instructions.
  • Anyone can clone and fork it.
  • The code is available for free, a Roomba hardware needs to be bought.
  • EyeRobot still provides a much cheaper alternative than guide dogs, which cost over $12,000 and are useful for only 5 years, while the prototype was built for well under $400.
  • He didn’t prototype this project with a specific community, but he did it for a specific kind of users: blind and visually impaired people.

How is it “care”?

  • It solves an everyday issue for blind and visually impaired people. It helps their movements in cluttered and populated environments.


Embedded the video to see how the cane actually works

Hi @Moushira, I took the liberty to add it so that it makes for an even better read!

While browsing the web quickly I came across several recent articles introducing different robotic canes (including one equipped with a camera invented by a 16 year old), all equally cheap to make, that are still presented as prototypes. Wondering how come this hasn’t, many years after, become more widespread…

Facts? Usercomments?

Great idea @Moushira my Roomba has cost me 400€, worked 1 year, makes noise and now battery replacement (+100€). I’m not so sure about cost/effectivenes you claim.

I’d like to hear what a blind owner of a dog says? Usually people are quite fond of their dogs (and they climb stairs, go outside) Roomba dosn,t pass even small obstacles.

Or is this the typically technocrats way to care (my recurrent question to myself)? What does th blinds community say?