This Startup Is Creating Mini Boston Dynamics-Style RoboPets
If you’re the type of person that looks at Boston Dynamics’ Robot Dogs and thinks ‘cute, I want one!’, then these new programmable pups should be right up your street.
The palm-sized robotic dogs, called ‘Bittle’, look just like mini versions of the Boston Dynamics canines we all know and fear. Behind Bittle is an engineering startup named Petoi, led by Chinese physicist and computer scientist Rongzhong Li.
Bittle uses an open source platform, and is run by a custom Arduino board that can be controlled through a Bluetooth app on your smartphone.
The RoboDog is made of a series of simple 3D-printed interlocking parts which take about an hour to assemble. The finished product moves about on four dynamic spring-loaded legs, and has the ability to flip, make its way down stairs, and put itself back on its feet when it falls over.
Weighing just 280g, it’s a compact yet powerful piece of kit, and the company says that, when programmed properly, Bittle can run at more than two body-lengths per second.
Just like its larger counterpart Spot, Bittle can also perform a range of nifty tricks. Unlike Spot, however, Bittle also comes with a little plastic dog’s head, which definitely helps to make it look a lot less threatening.
Petoi say the toy is customisable to each user, and has various clip-on sensors, as well as the capacity to mount a Raspberry Pi or AI chip. Petoi says they designed the dog to make robotics more accessible to STEM learners.
In a blog post, company founder Rongzhong Li said:
[Bittle is] designed to lower the technical and cost barrier of expensive dynamic robots for the use of schools, research, and family activities.
Our mission is to bring affordable robotic pets from fiction to reality.
In line with their educational background, Petoi has established a community forum, called Petoi Camp, where users can find tutorials and project ideas, and also runs competitions encouraging Bittle owners to programme the pets to do original tricks and manoeuvres of their own.
Petoi recently completed a crowdfunding campaign for Bittle on Kickstarter, and it’s fair to say they generated a lot of excitement. The company managed to raise over half a million dollars from 2,052 backers, more than ten times its initial $50,000 target.
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