Stanford University Unveils Its Own Robotic Dog

A team of students from the Stanford University Robotics Club’s Extreme Mobility Team has released details for its new Stanford Doggo. Stanford Doggo is a robot dog that has been released along with the open-sourced plans, parts list, and even software by the students.

We all know that robotics can be quite expensive. This is a fact that is quite well-understood by the Extreme Mobility Team of Stanford University’s Robotics Club (SEMT). The materials that are utilized by the robotics club of the university can cost more than tens of thousands of dollars, thus making it difficult for many high-schools and colleges that are not that well-funded to keep up in this area of research. 

As a show of goodwill, instead of keeping the high-quality robotics to their advantage only, the team decided to come up with an open-source robot dog – Stanford Doggo – and placed all of the instructions, parts list, and the software code online so that anyone can make use of them. Nathan Kau, a mechanical engineering major and lead for SEMT, said, ‘We had seen these other quadruped robots used in research, but they weren’t something that you could bring into your own lab and use for your own projects. We wanted Stanford Doggo to be this open source robot that you could build yourself on a relatively small budget.’

The parts will still require, however, an investment of around $3,000. However, this amount still comes within the budget of many schools and hobbyists. The Stanford Doggo is capable of walking, trotting, hopping, jumping, dancing, and even doing a backflip. It is about the size of a beagle, but the SEMT has plans of developing a bigger robot dog that they call Stanford Woofer. Stanford Woofer will be about twice the size of Stanford Doggo and be able to carry six kilograms.

SEMT had to create the robot themselves first if they wanted it to be reproducible. This led them to sourcing materials and then testing them as well. It took time, but Stanford Doggo did make it from design to actual reality. Natalie Ferrante, SEMT member and mechanical engineering student, said, ‘It’s been about two years since we first had the idea to make a quadruped. We’ve definitely made several prototypes before we actually started working on this iteration of the dog. It was very exciting the first time we got him to walk.’

Patrick Slade, who is an aeronautics and astronautics graduate student and mentor for SEMT, said, ‘We’re hoping to provide a baseline system that anyone could build. Say, for example, you wanted to work on search and rescue; you could outfit it with sensors and write code on top of ours that would let it climb rock piles or excavate through caves. Or maybe it’s picking up stuff with an arm or carrying a package.’

The team has plans of continuing to work on their Robot dogs once they return from the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Montreal, Canada.