Should We Beware The Unitree Go2
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Sunday, 23 July 2023

At first sight the Unitree Go2 seems the perfect pet robotic dog, short on doing anything useful but highly entertaining. But ... read the headline "New Creature of Embodied AI", referring to it having ChatGTP capability, and imagine its potential for causing havoc.

Unitree Robotics is a Chinese company started in 2016. Its Go2 is the successor to the Go1, which when we met it back in 2021 seemed not only harmless, but delightful. I commented:

Unitree says it wants to make quadrupedal robots as affordable and popular as smartphones and drones and to judge from the video, Go1 could well fill the role of a robot pet and have mass-market appeal.

At the time the base price of the Go1 was $2,700 so the fact that the upgraded Go2 price starts at $1,600 seems remarkable. If you want to import one to the US, however, delivery and sales tax push the price up to around $2,400.

Unitree also has industrial models and it looks as though the most recent, the Unitree B, is being promoted as an alternative in the role of site watchdog to Boston Dynamics' Spot and at less than a tenth of the price.

Unitree Ind

 

At just under 16 inches tall and 27 inches from head to tail, and weighing 33 pounds, Go2 is considerably smaller and lighter than Spot. It is, however, larger than Dingo, the open source robot we met last month that can be built for around $1000.

Unitree Go2 photo

The entry-level Go2 has a camera, flashlight, and a constantly spinning 360-degree LiDAR sensor on the face. This is used to navigate terrain, create 3D maps and models of nearby objects. Like the Dingo, the Go2 has 12 motors, three for each leg, resulting in a high degree of agility, robot able to deal with steps, uneven outdoor terrain and making it capable of tricks including standing upright on its hind legs. It has an 8000 mAh battery good for one to two hours of runtime and has Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth for communication with its app. The base model has a top speed of 2.5 meters per second. 

A more expensive ($2,800) Pro model adds a speaker and microphone combo for voice commands, media playback, and intercom functions. It has 4G connectivity, a faster CPU, and a higher top speed - 2.5 meters per second. It can also respond to commands thanks to it  "Wireless Vector Positioning Tracking Module".

The most expensive Edu model can reach 5 meters per second and has a "foot-end force sensor". It has a 15,000 mAh battery and comes with a  9A fast-charging system.  

Now let's meet the Go2 range. All three models are included so see if you can work out which is which: 

Both the video and the Unitree website suffer from poor, or non-existent, translation into English attracting lots of comments on YouTube, in particular picking up on the phrase:

"I dance to pleasure you"

The video certainly concentrates on Go2's entertainment value rather than suggesting that it is capable of performing domestic chores. On the other hand the Pro model can respond to spoken instructions - in the video we see how it takes a photograph when asked to. Integrating it with ChatGPT opens up unlimited opportunities - and not necessarily good ones.

As a thought experiment, what if instead of the litter picker shown below, the robot arm was yielding an axe - or worse had been modified to fire a gun - and control has fallen into the hands of a bad actor .....

Unitree Go2 arm

More Information

Unitree Robotics Go2

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 23 July 2023 )