Students from Stanford University have welcomed a new addition to their campus: Doggo, a four-legged robot that hopes to find a home in research labs around the world.
Doggo follows similar designs to other small quadrupedal robots, but what makes it unique is its low cost and accessibility. While comparable bots can cost tens of thousands of dollars, the creators of Doggo — Stanford’s Extreme Mobility lab — estimate its total cost to be less than $3,000. What’s more, the design is completely open source, meaning anyone can print off the plans and assemble a Doggo of their very own.
“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,” Nathan Kau, a mechanical engineering major and Extreme Mobility lead, said in a university news post. “We wanted Stanford Doggo to be this open source robot that you could build yourself on a relatively small budget.”
Although Doggo is cheap to produce, it actually performs better than pricier robots, thanks to improvements in the design of its leg mechanism and the use of more efficient motors. It has greater torque than Ghost Robotics’ similarly sized and shaped Minitaur robot (which costs upwards of $11,500) and a greater vertical jumping ability than MIT’s Cheetah 3 robot.
Machines like Doggo are part of what some researchers think is a coming robotic revolution. Legged robots are becoming more capable, and companies like Boston Dynamics, Agility Robotics, and Anybotics are starting to position them as useful tools for jobs like site surveying, surveillance, security, and even package delivery.
Cheap robotic platforms like Doggo allow researchers to rapidly improve on control systems, the same way cheap quadcopters led to a huge boost in aerial navigation. Right now, Doggo and its ilk are made for universities and labs, but pretty soon, they’ll be trotting out into the real world.