We’ve all seen the intensely cool robot development coming out of Boston Dynamics. The latest videos from the company show a level of untethered quadrupedal and bipedal agility only previously imagined in movies. It’s a level of tech that seems inaccessible outside of a well-funded company or government research facility, but one company is breaking down the barrier to research and development in advanced robotic systems.
React Robotics has a goal to create an open robotics platform for anyone to create robots that can go anywhere and do anything. The Guildford, Surrey-based company is a team steeped in artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and industrial design. Their first proof-of-concept, and product, is a untethered quadrupedal robot capable of suburban navigation. DogBot is a 800mm (31 inches) tall, sleek, four-legged bot weighing in at 20kg (40 lbs)with 34kW of high-torque brushless motors and an open-source controller.
If DogBot sounds familiar, you may recall React Robotics Co-founder, Dr. Charles Galambos, sharing his work and vision on the concept just over two years ago. Dogbot won the 2017 Hackaday Prize with the demonstration of building “a walking robot that can work in human scale world for $1000.” You can get a sense of all the work put into the vision in the project logs, why a quadruped design was chosen, the initial prototype development, and the turning point in April of 2019 with a new robot design – a new robot design that, most recently, Charles shared Fusion 360 files (A360) for.
Talking with Gregory Epps, CEO at React Robotics, he explains that, “compared to the previous robot, this robot was designed to be way, way stiffer. We now have this monocoque construction which takes the load much, much better, with legs that are a much larger diameter carbon fiber (solid 12mm rod) pushing the stresses much further out where the loads actually occur, while retaining the shock absorption to take the jarring nature out so it isn’t transferred to the gearbox.”
The stiffer robot makes it easier for them to transfer their predictions from the simulation. This, in turn, allows them to put the robot into real-world scenarios, where machine learning takes over, providing more data and a better understanding of how the robot really operates, to make more improvements.
While Fusion 360 is used on the software side, React is partnering with Lenovo on the hardware side, using the ThinkStation P920 for data simulation and compilation, with ThinkPad P1 mobile workstations used for on-site, field-testing. In the field, React’s robot is proving to be the perfect application for the construction-industry where a Faro scanner can be mounted to the DogBot to capture data for the build-site.
You would think the field of robotics is saturated and everything that can be done with robotics is already being done, but React is filling a large void between low-end consumer robot kits and high-end, AI-powered automatons. Though DogBot has been developed over the past few years, they’re just getting started and opening the field of robotics up to a larger audience with open-source software on an affordable platform.
The DogBot package will include:
- Robot: quadruped chassis with built-in locomotion
- Power Supply: Run the robot on treadmills without using up battery supply
- Spare Batteries: So you can charge while you use
And you get:
- Manual: Thoroughly documented
- Example Files: Walking code that works already
- ROS stack with Python API
- Open-Source low-level control software with C++ API
- Gazebo simulation and URDF
- Flight Case: Transport DogBot to remote locations
- Stand with hanging straps: Start by walking in the air!
- Linear Overhead Rail: suspend DogBat while you are teaching it
- Configuration: custom perception and compute packages
The CAD files are available on A360. The DogBot software is already available on GitHub along with DogBot simulation files. You can find more information and sign-up on their website to be notified of updates and when pre-orders are available. Follow them on Twitter @reactrobotics for the latest and view videos of their progress on YouTube.