Not only is the Robopet a heck of a lot of fun to play with, he’s also a wonder of mechanical and software design. By creative use of linkages coupled with body rotation, the robot manages to perform movements and tricks that are good enough to fool other animals into thinking that it’s another dog.
Well, at least it’s a good enough imitation to fool our dog Austin, but then Austin was fooled by the Roboraptor as well – Austin is definitely not in any danger of being accepted into Mensa.
We’ve been fascinated by the way that the Robopet works, and especially by the linkages that form its front and hind feet. So, at the risk of being cited by the robot division of the ASPCA, we decided to trap the Robopet, suspend him in mid-air, and have him perform in front of a video camera.
Although we want to go back and spend a lot more time examining the robots moves, we did make a few initial observations.
- Linkages in the bottom part of each leg keep the sole of the feet at the right angle relative to the ground.
- When the Robopet walks it twists its body sections to lift its feet off the ground.
- The shape of the legs has changed quite a bit over the past 11 months or so. Comparing the current Robopet’s legs with the early versions videotaped at trade shows like CES, quickly reveals some of the differences.
- When the robot thinks that it needs to turn over and get up, it tries to right itself a limited number of times. If it doesn't succeed, then it shuts itself down (see the last 15 seconds of the video.)
- I should have paid a lot more attention during my college engineering courses when the prof was explaining how to design complex linkages.