The Japanese company NSK has developed a guide dog that uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor to visualize the world around it and lead its owner out of danger. The dog glides around on four legs that have wheels attached to them instead of feet, and when it senses an obstacle it begins to climb. Using its hinged legs, the pooch climbs up and down stairs — albeit very slowly — with its charge following safely behind guided by a handle attached to the back of the dog. Watch a video of the robotic feat after the jump.

There are thousands of people around the world that use guide dogs to help them with their everyday lives. For someone who has lost their sight, having a companion who is able to lead them around, perform tasks and generally look out for their welfare is indispensable.

This robotic dog uses 3D visualization through the Kinect sensor which it then uses to measure the amount of movement necessary to tackle an obstacle. The robot also has bumper sensors on all of its feet so it can avoid stumbling over last second surprises. Though this lil’ guy definitely can’t replace a real-life guide dog — the tasks that a guide dog performs reach far outside the realm of climbing stairs — it could be very helpful when negotiating long walks outside. Pair this metal mutt with a GPS system and you’ve got a real guide dog who can use Google maps to lead you to a distant location.

Via Daily Mail