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Soon, every robotic dog will have its day, and say!

By MA SI | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-03 08:26
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The CyberDog 2, a quadrupedal robot, is seen at a Xiaomi store in Xiangyang, Hubei province. LI FUHUA/FOR CHINA DAILY

Isn't it nice to always have a lovely dog follow you around and respond when asked to sit down or shake hands? What if the dog has some unique skills, such as standing on one leg while resting on a chunk of tofu without destroying it, or continuously making back flips? This would be even better.

In fact, a life-like quadrupedal robotic dog developed by Chinese tech company Xiaomi Corp seems like that special one.

Weighing 8.9 kilogram, about the size of a Doberman, CyberDog 2 is the latest push by Xiaomi to popularize quadrupedal robotics.

With a black, sleek, futuristic design, CyberDog 2 can trot along at speeds of 3.2 meters per second, analyze its surroundings in real-time, create navigational maps, plot its destination, and avoid obstacles.

"Coupled with human posture and face recognition tracking, CyberDog is capable of following its owner and darting around obstructions," said Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi.

Behind such functions are Xiaomi's self-developed CyberGear Micro-actuator, which further enhances the robot's mobility and supports high difficulty maneuvers. CyberDog 2 is equipped with a fusion sensing and decision-making system, offering 19 sensors for vision, touch and hearing.

"This is the first time I've seen a robot dog in reality. It is quite cool!" said Zhang Lu, a university student in Wuhan, Hubei province, after witnessing CyberDog 2 during an exhibition earlier this month. "I have seen videos of people walking robotic dogs online. But it is more interesting in reality," Zhang said, adding that domestic technology products have changed and developed rapidly.

On being asked whether the robot dog can help deliver parcels, an employee at Xiaomi said as long as the weight of the package is within the acceptable range of the flat back area of the robotic dog, it can be done.

Lei said CyberDog 2 is designed more for engineers and robotic enthusiasts than ordinary consumers. It is priced at 12,999 yuan ($1,800) and greater efforts are needed to make it multifunctional.

Xiaomi said CyberDog 2 has been made as open-source as possible, from coding to structural drawings, as well as providing graphical programming and modular processing of various sensing capabilities.

With its continuous open-source ecosystem, the CyberDog family will attract more developers to participate, while continuously promoting the progress and enhancement of Bio-inspired robots to truly benefit people in future.

Xiaomi is not alone in showing an interest in quadrupedal machines.

US company Boston Dynamics had pioneered the quadrupedal format for robots.

Last year, the company unveiled Spot for $74,500 and the robot has been put to a wide range of uses, from surveying dangerous mines to helping doctors connect with patients remotely. It has also been tested by both law enforcement and the military, though not as a weapon.

Earlier this year, Chinese robotics firm Unitree also released a quadrupedal bot to popularize the quadrupedal machines.

Robotic dogs are currently emerging in industry-level scenarios such as power inspection and field patrol, in addition to consumer scenarios where home companionship is the main function, said Zhu Qiuguo, associate professor at Zhejiang University.

If more breakthroughs are made in core technologies, robotic dogs are likely to become common in daily life scenarios, Zhu added.

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