Meet ‘Doggo’: New low-cost robot that can jump, flip

NEW YORK: In a bid to make robotics technology more affordable and accessible, researchers have developed a relatively low-cost open-source robot that could one day help in rescue and search operations and pick up stuff with an arm or carry a package.

The “dog like” robot is capable of not only performing acrobatics like jump and flip but also travel through challenging terrain.

What makes this new “four-legged” robot, dubbed as “Stanford Doggo”, different from other quadruped robots is that you can build it yourself on a relatively small budget and use for your own projects as its design, code and components are available online for free, said the researchers from Stanford University.

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“We had seen these other quadruped robots used in research, but they weren’t something that you could bring into your own lab and use for your own projects,” said Nathan Kau, lead researcher and a mechanical engineering major at Stanford University.

“We wanted Stanford Doggo to be this open source robot that you could build yourself on a relatively small budget,” Kau added.

The researchers, who were scheduled to present “Stanford Doggo” at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal, Canada on Tuesday, said they are working on a “larger version of their creation”.

While other similar robots cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Stanford Doggo is estimated to cost less than $3,000 (including manufacturing and shipping costs).

The researchers said that Doggo’s first steps were “toddling”, but now the “dog-like” robot can maintain a desired trajectory, even as it encounters different terrains.

Doggo does it with the help of motors that sense external forces on it and ascertain how much force and torque each leg should apply.

These motors recompute at 8,000 times a second and act like a system of “virtual springs”, smoothly rebounding the robot into suitable form whenever they sense it’s out of position.

The researchers have a vision to make Stanford Doggo easily accessible to the masses.

“We’re hoping to provide a baseline system that anyone could build,” said team mentor Patrick Slade, aeronautics and astronautics student at the varsity.

“Say, for example, you wanted to work on search and rescue; you could outfit it with sensors and write code on top of ours that would let it climb rock piles or excavate through caves. Or maybe it’s picking up stuff with an arm or carrying a package,” Slade noted.


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