They may not be as cuddly as their furry biological counterparts, but training a robot dog involves far fewer ruined carpets, and many more video game controllers. The G-Dog from HPI Japan and Futaba is a hobby-kit robot that mimics the shape and movements of a canine. While it can be assembled in about two hours, it has nine motor servos with individual processors to give you an impressive range of motion to explore. In the videos below, you can see G-Dog walk forward and backward, turn, sit, and raise a leg to ‘pee’. It can even rollover and stand on its head. Available for [Y] 70,000 (~$825), G-Dog is a cool example of how advanced amateur level robots have become in the past decade.
G-Dog has been around for a few years, debuting at TEPIA’s Advanced Technology Exhibition Hall in Tokyo in 2008. Some of the earliest footage of the robot dog in action highlighted its wide array of movements. Some, as you’ll see, are pretty life like:
*Note: At the end of the video, G-Dog is responding to button commands, not voice recognition. The demonstrator is simply giving verbal commands to showcase how dog-like the robot can act.
In the years since it was released, G-Dog has continued to impress. While the robot comes with a package of pre-programmed actions, users are able to program individual motion in each of its nine servos, allowing for customized movements. A computer interface lets you set those commands and then execute them with a video game controller. (Both the interface and controller are included in its pricetag.) Rounding out its good features is a three hour charge time and a 45 minute run time. The former isn’t so hot, but the latter means you’ll have plenty of time to show off your robo-mutt before it needs to take its nap.
While G-Dog simply can’t compete against research-level quadripeds like the Little Dog, it has something that those more advanced robots simply don’t: availability. At less than a thousand dollars, G-Dog is firmly within the reach of many amateur engineers. It isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s reasonable for a school, or dedicated enthusiast. As robot-kits like this become more sophisticated and less expensive, I’m excited to see what new possibilities it will open up in the amateur robotics community. Twenty years ago, this would have been research-level equipment – who knows what we’ll be able to purchase for our robot hobbies in another few decades.
Look, Mommy, I just finished assembling my life-sized intelligent humanoid robot! Can I go outside and play with it?
Only after it’s finished cleaning your room.