Many people are fascinated by Spot, the four-legged robot from Boston Dynamics, but not everyone can afford one of their own. Fortunately, a Hong-Kong based startup MangDang has developed a smaller and cheaper dog-shaped quadruped robot that can hop, trot, and run around.
Called Mini Pupper, the robot dog is very similar to Spot, only that its size is more reminiscent of a small breed dog. Once assembled, the robot measures 209 mm long, 109 mm wide, 165 mm high, and weighs just over half a kilo (560 grams). The Mini Pupper features an 800 mAh battery, a Raspberry Pi 4B processor that can be programmed in Ubuntu or ROS.
It can also be equipped with third-party devices such as a LiDAR module for scanning and mapping its surroundings and a depth-sensing camera for identifying and tracking objects. One of the striking aspects of Mini Pupper is that it can be programmed to carry out the movements that the user wants. You can program the robot to jump, jog, run, map your surroundings, and learn from your surroundings in real-time using a camera sensor.
With its 12-degrees-of-freedom agility, the Mini Pupper can walk at various gaits, including pacing, bounding, or trotting for 25 minutes with a single 30-minute charge of its 800-mAh battery. The robot also has an animated LCD face that can be programmed to display different expressions.
The mechanical pet is designed to be used as an educational tool and stands out because it’s available in an open-source kit that users assemble themselves – although there’s also a fully-assembled option.
For now, the Mini Pupper is part of a Kickstarter campaign. Those interested can purchase a $589 package that would allow them to assemble the robot on their own, of course, if the creators ever decide to launch it on the market.