There is nothing that I like better on clear and cold autumn days than going to the park and seeing the robot dogs play in piles of leaves. To hear the squid from their small metal legs! To imagine the joy in their little silicone brain! Ah, what a bliss.
If you have never experienced these pleasures before, the video above from the MIT biomimetics lab gives you the basic idea. The bots that you can see are the Mini Cheetah from the university: a lightweight and modular quadruped that has been developing for years. We saw the Mini Cheetah earlier in 2019 when he learned to backflip, but the biomimetics lab has clearly boosted production and now has at least nine of these small bots.
Each weighs around 20 pounds (or nine kilograms), is powered by 12 electric motors and can reach speeds of around six miles per hour (or 2.5 meters per second). As you can see in the video, they are all controlled manually using RC controllers.
Speak against IEEE spectrum Earlier this year, Sangbae Kim, director of MIT's biomimetics lab, said the bots are being used to investigate various issues that require a bit of robustness and flexibility. Thanks to their modular design, scientists can exchange new parts if they break, and their hard construction can survive crashes and ponies.
“Mini Cheetah is just about the perfect size. Twenty pounds (9 kilograms) is not too small but not so large that it is dangerous or vulnerable, "Sangbae said." We designed the machine to be able to absorb the impact, jump and land and so on. "
Quadrupedal robots of this kind are becoming increasingly common as different technological areas mature: namely battery technology, motors, cheap sensors and machine vision. The best-known example of this type of machine is Boston Dynamics ’Spot, which the company started renting out for industrial and research work in September.
At present, these bots are mostly used to measure runways, where the use of robots is cheaper or safer than the use of people (such as on remote drilling platforms). However, they are likely to find other duties in the future, including parcel delivery and security patrols.
It is important to note that although these robots are physical impressive, they are not intelligent at all. Their smartness, as it is, lies in their mobility: their ability to navigate rough terrain and recover from falls. But they don't make decisions about where they walk or how they respond. For example, Spot can perform some automated functions, such as a sentry mode where it patrols a certain path up and down, but it is no longer able to respond to unexpected stimuli (such as placing a cardboard box above its head) than a Roomba.
But don't forget, if you think about getting one of these lucky guys for yourself, a robot dog is for life, not just for Christmas. They have daily walks, regular oil changes and electricity bills are not cheap.