Meet Mini Pupper, the Dog With a Raspberry Pi for a Brain

The Mini Pupper says hello
(Image credit: MangDang)

Do not adjust your sets, this is not an episode of Black Mirror or a Neal Stephenson novel, this is a Kickstarter for a robot dog. And it’s powered by a Raspberry Pi 4.

Standing just 6.5 inches tall, Mini Pupper is based on the Stanford Pupper 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 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.

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.

Ian Evenden
Freelance News Writer

Ian Evenden is a UK-based news writer for Tom’s Hardware US. He’ll write about anything, but stories about Raspberry Pi and DIY robots seem to find their way to him.

  • husker
    Too bad, I'm more of a cat person.
  • MangDang
    Thanks so much for Enrico Frahn's help!
    I'm Afreez from MangDang, Mini Pupper product manager.
    I'm happy to share that Mini Pupper is already Top3 in the Technology category and Top1 in the Robots category.
    Very appreciated if you can support Mini Pupper Kickstarter campaign!
    If you have any questions, please feel free to let us know.
    Best Regards,
    Afreez from Mini Pupper Team