While many people are fascinated by Boston Dynamics' dog-inspired Spot quadruped robot, there's no way that they could ever afford one of their own. They could still own a different robo-dog, though, in the form of the smaller and cheaper Mini Pupper.
Measuring 209 mm long by 109 mm wide by 165 mm high (8.2 by 4.3 by 6.5 in), the 560-gram (20-oz) Mini Pupper is manufactured by Hong Kong-based startup MangDang. It's most definitely made for hackers/tinkerers, as it's available in an open-source kit that users assemble themselves – although there's also a fully-assembled option.
The robot can either be preprogrammed or remotely controlled in real time, and its integrated Raspberry Pi 4B microprocessor is compatible with the Ubuntu and ROS operating systems. It can also be equipped with third-party devices such as a LiDAR module for scanning and mapping its surroundings, and a depth-sensing camera for identifying and tracking objects.
And yes, as you have probably noticed, it also has an animated LCD-screen face that can be programmed to display different expressions.
Thanks to its 12-degrees-of-freedom agility, the Mini Pupper can walk at various gaits including pacing, bounding or trotting. One 30-minute charge of its 800-mAh battery is claimed to be good for about 25 minutes of use.
The Mini Pupper is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Although lower-priced packages are available for backers who are willing to supply some of their own parts and put the robot together themselves, a fully assembled unit that includes all the components can be had for a pledge of US$589 – assuming it reaches production, that is. Prospective backers might also want to check out the successfully crowdfunded Petoi Bittle mini robo-dog.
You can see the Mini Pupper in action, in the video below.