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Robots have always captured the human imagination, and in recent years, the idea of creating robotic pets has gained significant traction. Open-source robot pet projects have become a vibrant community, bringing together enthusiasts, engineers, and developers to create innovative, affordable, and customizable robotic companions.
These projects explore the intersection of technology, creativity, and companionship, and in this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the best open-source robot pet projects currently making waves.
Open-source robots represent a fusion of open-source software principles with an optional do-it-yourself (DIY) hardware approach. These open-source robot projects are deliberately designed to be user-friendly, enabling individuals to construct them using readily available tools and components. The developers of these robots generously provide comprehensive instructions, designs, and code, empowering users to fabricate their robots.
Furthermore, these open-source platforms extend their utility to students, engineers, and researchers, facilitating the development of various iterations for research experiments or straightforward projects.
Open-source robots are characterized by programmable-controlled hardware that grants users the freedom to create, customize, and distribute their applications without incurring any costs. In contrast, closed-source robots also feature programmable-controlled hardware.
However, they differ in that the source codes governing the robot’s operations are not shared with the public, thus preventing individuals from modifying the inner workings of the robot’s software.
OpenCat, developed by Petoi, is an open-source robotic pet framework based on Arduino or ESP32 technology. This project serves as a catalyst for advancing robotics in various domains, including research, STEM education, and engineering development.
Within the OpenCat framework, several remarkable robots operate:
Bittle is a quadruped dog robot, reminiscent of the renowned Boston Dynamics-style bots, designed to be budget-friendly for educational institutions and STEM programs. This small yet powerful robotic dog boasts lifelike movements, allowing it to perform actions, move, and play akin to real dogs.
Assembling Bittle is a breeze, like piecing together LEGO-like components and downloading demo codes from GitHub. In fact, some enthusiasts have even taken it upon themselves to DIY their very own Bittle robot dog.
OpenCat customization offers the flexibility to adapt Bittle for specific applications or to control other OpenCat robots using the Robot Operating System (ROS). A team of researchers has published a paper showcasing the use of Bittle for machine learning, demonstrating its potential in the development of new skills, transforming it into a ninja or a gymnastics expert.
Bittle serves as an excellent tool for learning, research, and robotics development, making it a perfect addition to impress family and friends with your technological pet companion.
Nybble is a robotic cat with impressive capabilities, including performing handstands and engaging in playful boxing. Despite its seemingly eccentric abilities, Nybble’s lightweight construction using laser-cut plywood allows for swift and graceful movements.
Running on the OpenCat platform, Nybble offers endless possibilities for customization, enabling it to mimic the behaviors of a real cat. Enthusiasts have also ventured into creating DIY versions of Nybble.
All Petoi robots are powered by customized Arduino Uno or ESP32 boards, which oversee both basic and intricate movements through high-performance plastic or metal servos. IoT sensors can be integrated for diverse applications. Furthermore, users have the option to enhance these robots by incorporating Raspberry Pi or other AI development boards, thus unlocking the full spectrum of capabilities for research and practical applications within the field of robotics.
A 3D-printed, open-source, quadrupedal robot takes inspiration from Boston Dynamics’ Spot Mini. It relies on the Arduino Mega development board and is equipped with an ultrasonic sensor, ideal for tasks like mapping or obstacle avoidance.
While hot glue secures specific components in place, regrettably, there is no pre-existing code readily available for numerous applications that can kickstart your journey with the Spot Micro robot after assembly. Nonetheless, the onus is on you to craft your own code, enabling you to begin an exploration of this robot’s vast potential.
MIT has engineered a resilient and formidable quadruped robot known for its remarkable capabilities. This robotic marvel exhibits swift acceleration on level terrain, achieving a great speed of 60 km/h within a mere few seconds. Additionally, this robotic prodigy has demonstrated its agility by skillfully vaulting over a spectrum of obstacles, ranging from 30 to 40 centimeters in height.
MIT’s journey with these cheetah-inspired robots commenced back in early 2013, evolving through several research models, culminating with the Cheetah 3. However, in early 2019, MIT embarked on developing a new miniature version of the Cheetah, characterized by reduced weight, more compact dimensions, and heightened stability.
During a live presentation featured on TechCrunch, Stanford University unveiled an innovative, cost-effective, open-source quadruped robot aimed at reducing the hurdles associated with entering the field of robotics. This robot boasts an impressive range of motion with 12 degrees of freedom, enabling it to maneuver in multiple directions and even execute jumps. Enhancing its accessibility for swift development, the Pupper can be efficiently controlled using a PlayStation controller.
Linorobot stands as an open-source robotic platform seamlessly compatible with the Robot Operating System (ROS). This versatile platform offers a cost-effective solution to professionals from diverse fields, enabling the creation of innovative applications atop the ROS framework.
Linorobot presents the flexibility to construct robots from the ground up using a variety of compatible robot bases. It has been thoughtfully designed with readily accessible hardware, making it accessible to a wide range of users.
Linorobot comprises multiple distinct platforms, each equipped with its own hardware controller responsible for converting velocity into relevant coordinates or steering angles.
The ROS Navigation Stack then translates this information into motor movements through kinematic calculations specific to each platform. These controllers are designed to be modular and scalable, facilitating component replacement for the construction of larger robots without the need to rewrite firmware or reuse extensive portions of code.
Poppy Humanoid is a prominent member of the robotics family employing the Poppy technological platform. This open-source humanoid robot boasts a design that closely mimics the human form, featuring 3D-printed components and servo motors to govern its various moving parts.
Poppy Humanoid stands as a valuable educational resource, particularly within school environments, serving as an exemplary subject for research concerning human-like robotic structures.
Open-source robot pet projects are not just about creating lifelike companions; they’re about fostering a community of passionate individuals who are pushing the boundaries of technology and creativity. These projects provide a platform for collaboration, experimentation, and innovation, allowing anyone to be a part of the exciting world of robotics.
The beauty of open-source robotics is that it democratizes the field, making it accessible to people of all backgrounds and skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner looking to start your robotics journey or an experienced engineer seeking to explore new possibilities, these open-source robot pet projects offer a wealth of opportunities to learn, create, and have fun with technology.
The future of robotic pets is wide open, and the possibilities are limited only by our imagination and collective effort.