Were there any successful attempts to replace poor guide dogs used for blind people with AI to achieve similar rate of success? I guess dogs could be easily distracted and not reliable for every situation, and it probably takes less time to train AI, than a dog.

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    $\begingroup$ One key difference is that dogs need to be trained on a per-instance basis, the AI algorithm only once, then copied to all devices. Right now, though, we'd better hope the AI doesn't mistake a high-sided lorry for empty sky, like the Tesla autopilot recently did. $\endgroup$ – NietzscheanAI Aug 9 '16 at 9:58
  • $\begingroup$ @wythagoras But I would say an AI. $\endgroup$ – Mithical Aug 17 '16 at 12:24

Chieko Asakawa (wiki, TED, IBM) is a major researcher in this area, and the linked TED talk is probably a good introduction to the state of the art as of 2015. Here's a link to a 2016 paper on a smartphone navigation system.

Guide animals perform manipulation tasks as well as identification tasks, and so it's not clear if those could be replaced well at all. (A smartphone that reads a label is a great help, but a dog that knows which bottle to grab and deliver to you is probably a much better help.)

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