She is blind and has created an AI suitcase to guide herself without using a cane or a dog

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Chieko Asakawaa computer scientist and IBM researcher who lost her sight completely when she was 14 after an accident, together with a group of Japanese researchers, presented this Thursday in Tokyo a autonomous suitcase that allows you to avoid obstacles with the aim of guide the blind through the airport without the need for a cane or guide dog.

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At first glance the device looks like an ordinary suitcase, but it is equipped with many of the technologies that can be found in autonomous vehicles, such as sensors, artificial intelligence (AI) and motors which help guide visually impaired people safely around obstacles or other people.

“Based on my experience of being blind, I developed this AI-powered suitcase to improve accessibility and achieve freedom of movement for blind people,” explains Chieko Asakawa, a computer scientist and IBM researcher who he lost his sight completely when he was 14 years old.

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A swimming accident left Chieko Asakawa blind at the age of 14. For the past three decades, she has worked to create the technology, now with a strong focus on artificial intelligence (AI), to transform the lives of the blind.

The Japanese researcher, who had been developing the concept in collaboration with IBM since 2017, presented the device on Thursday 26 at the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation (Miraikan) in Odaiba (Tokyo Bay), in order to “change the experience of the mobility of people with disabilities and reduce the barrier to achieve greater inclusion”.

For this researcher the idea of ​​creating an AI suitcase came from his own experienceas I wanted to achieve independent mobility, especially in a stressful environment like an airport.

“I heard that there is a wall that cannot be overcome with technology alone, but now we have been able to test the suitcase and offer the opportunity for Tokyo residents to experience it as well,” says Asakawa.

the robot suitcasewhich acts as a “travel companion” and can be carried in the cabin, has a touch sensor in the handle that makes the device stop when the person lets go, as well as depth cameras and a voice control device that works connected to a mobile phone .

To ensure safe navigation, it also has a sensor (called LiDAR) that allows it measure the distance and shape of nearby pedestrians, objects and wallsand calculates the safest route with all the collected information.

The device, equipped with large wheels and a powerful internal motor, can also be used outdoors and has special large-diameter wheels that allow it to adapt to terrain variations of up to three centimeters.

Asakawa hopes to start marketing the device for private use and that it can be used in various places such as airports, shopping malls and other public spaces, although it cannot function as a suitcase for use at the moment since its interior is equipped with a motor , batteries and other electronic devices.

The Tokyo Museum today also unveiled another skateboard-shaped, multi-person self-contained mobility device called Mobility of partners oneas well as an autonomous bus that will be traveling across Tokyo Bay these days so that its visitors can experience it.

Source: Clarin

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