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News Release

Cornell scientists develop next generation robo-pets

Contact: Paul Redfern
Cell: (607) 227-1865

FOR RELEASE: January 22, 2013

ITHACA, N.Y. - The Cornell University Center for Advanced Computing (CAC) is assisting the College of Veterinary Medicine in the development of robotic pets (robo-pets) for Cornell’s new veterinary simulation center, the first to incorporate robotic high-fidelity canine and feline simulators.

Daniel Fletcher, Cornell assistant professor of emergency and critical care (ECC), and developer of the first high-fidelity pet simulator, is working with collaborators to develop an advanced simulation model.

Early models used human simulation software that did not provide the best approximation of a crashing dog or cat. Unfortunately, the commercial software used for human simulations was not adaptable to simulate the fast heartbeat and respiration of smaller animals, not to mention their unique reactions to resuscitation.

Code-named “Ursula” (the Universal Realistic Simulation of a Living Animal), the new software will simulate physiological responses for a variety of species and support inexpensive, off-the-shelf hardware components.

“The platform includes a low-cost microcontroller that can be interfaced to a variety of sensors and actuators, a graphical software application for students and instructors to view and interact with the simulation, and a communication protocol to tie everything together,” said CAC consultant Aaron Birkland.

Birkland is working on an implementation of the low-level communication protocol and messaging subsystems on the microcontroller, as well as the stand-alone PC software. When completed, the portable open source software will be available to other institutions interested in introducing simulation teaching and contributing to expansion of the platform.

Learn more about the robo-pet project in Carly Hodes’ Cornell Chronicle article.