Standing just 6.5 inches tall, Mini Pupper is based on the Stanford Pupper (opens in new tab) open-source robot. Unlike that rather awkward and expensive bot, Mini Pupper comes with a complete plastic shell and a much more reasonable price-tag.
“Mini Pupper is a dog-shaped robot that is aimed at stimulating and empowering your creativity,” reads the project's Kickstarter page. Mini Pupper is an open platform, running Ubuntu or ROS (Robot Operating System). The Raspberry Pi 4B (opens in new tab) brain makes it about as smart as a border collie, apparently, though there's no mention of whether it is house trained.
Outside of the Pi, the key to the robot’s remarkably nimble movement is the array of custom servos that control its limbs. A claimed 12 degrees of freedom mean it can “follow biological movements... We wanted it to have personality, and be approachable, and draw people in”. It uses a camera and LIDAR to map its environment, and includes SLAM and OpenCV AI technology to find its way about.
Designed mainly as an educational tool (although who wouldn’t want one just hanging around the house?) there's a whole online course in development dedicated to understanding and exploring how Mini Pupper works. For more information, follow creator MangDang on Twitter (opens in new tab).
At the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign has raised about 14 times its initial goal, and still has 29 days to run. For a pledge of around $350 you get a super early bird research kit, which includes the robot, casing, battery and charger. Remember that crowdfunding a project is not a guarantee of receiving a finished product. Backing a crowdfunded project is akin to an investment, you believe in the project and want it to succeed. You are not purchasing a retail product.