Meet Mini Pupper: the Robot Dog That Is Just as Smart as a Border Collie

Meet Mini Pupper, the robot dog that cab hop, trot, and run around 6 photos
Photo: MangDang
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Hong Kong-based MangDang has created a small robot that could make for a great four-legged companion. Called Mini Pupper, the Border-Collie-level smart machine can hop, trot, run around, and it can even display different expressions.
Over the past few years, robot dogs have gained a lot of popularity, especially since we were introduced to the Boston Dynamics' Spot with its moves and tricks. And while Spot is a pretty impressive machine, let's face it, 74K is not something most people just happen to have sitting around.

Unlike Spot, Mini Pupper comes with a much more reasonable price tag. It's also smaller than Boston Dynamic's creation, measuring only 165 mm high (6.5 in) and weighing about 560 grams (20 oz). Okay, it's not as big as a Border Collie, but it sure has the brain of one.

Powered by a Raspberry Pi 4B microprocessor, Mini Pupper uses Ubuntu and ROS to run its FSN (Full Self-Navigation) System. It also supports SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), which allows it to map its surroundings and learn in real-time from objects around it using Lidar or a camera sensor.

Mini Pupper also supports OpenCV's latest 3D camera module, the OAK-D LITE. The robot can use the module to perform facial recognition, object detection, and more.

MangDang says that its robot is "aimed at stimulating and empowering your creativity." This implies that you can learn and experiment with robotics by utilizing an open-source kit that allows you to build your own robo-dog. You will have full access to customize your own facial animation, mechanical shell, and algorithms.

The company also offers to provide any additional materials needed to help you through the processes of building your companion. For those who prefer to get the final product, there is also a pre-assembled version.

Currently, Mini Pupper is the subject of a Kickstarter campaign and has long surpassed its $9,998 initial goal. If you're already hooked on this little four-legged robot, you can make it yours for a pledge of $589. For that price, you'll get a research kit, which includes the robot, a shell, a controller, custom parts, a battery, and a charger.

There are also cheaper packages, but they only include components, not the fully-assembled robot.

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About the author: Florina Spînu
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Florina taught herself how to drive in a Daewoo Tico (a rebadged Suzuki Alto kei car) but her first "real car" was a VW Golf. When she’s not writing about cars, drones or aircraft, Florina likes to read anything related to space exploration and take pictures in the middle of nature.
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