Instead of seeing-eye dogs, the blind could be using the robotic guide dog in the near future.
Japanese manufacturer NSK has been developing the robotic guide dog for a few years with the first prototype unveiled in 2005 and the second 2008. This year, they've revealed a third prototype with a few improvements to previous models. The robot takes the four-legged form, so in a way it's like having a seeing-eye dog. The team at NSK have redesigned the legs to move quicker up and down the stairs and they've incorporated voice recognition for command purposes. There's also a longer leash and each foot has a bumper sensor integrated to avoid running into obstacles.
NSK's project certainly has potential to replace guide dogs. It'll be interesting to see how the company will make this available on a worldwide basis.