Dogs are the best and there is no debating that fact. But dogs also poop a lot and you, the responsible pet owner, must pick up those droppings like some kind of fecal butler. That’s bad enough, but it gets worse when you have to hunt through your backyard to find your dog’s stink bombs. To make that process a little less daunting, Caleb Olsen built an AI system to detect dog turds and target them with a laser.
Olsen built the artificially intelligent poo perception program back in January. Like many dog owners, he lets his dog do its business in the backyard several times before he picks it up. The obvious technique would be to observe the backyard with a camera and have an AI recognize excrement piles. But lots of things look like dog dookie in grainy video footage and snow can cover up the evidence. To get around that, Olsen’s AI looks at the dog itself. When it sees the pooch move into a BM position, it marks that location on the frame. Olsen could then look at the manure map to speed up cleaning days.
But referencing that image was still a chore, so Olsen added a laser targeting system. This uses a laser pointer strapped onto a robotic arm to aim at the dung identified by the original AI system. It starts by targeting the scat closest to where Olsen is standing. When he bends down to pick it up, the system removes that location from the manure map and then targets the next destination. It is an incredibly over-engineered system that solves a minor problem, which is exactly the kind of content we love around here. Plus, it gave me an excuse to type “poop” into a thesaurus while writing this article.