A Tale of Three (Robot) Dogs
Sunday, 17 December 2023

Quadruped robots continue to make strides. Here we look at the fastest, the most versatile and the least threatening - or rather most approachable.

A new Guinness World Record has been set by HOUND, a robot designed and made by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology’s (KAIST) Dynamic Robot Control and Design Laboratory. As shown in this video it demonstrates an unprecedented level of agility and speed, clocking the fastest 100-meter dash ever achieved by a quadruped robot. Starting from a stationary position, the 99-lb (45-kg) dog-bot ran the 100 meters at an average speed of 11.26 mph (18.12 km/h), covering the distance in 19.87 seconds.

Next we have a robot from Swiss-Mile, a spin-off from the Robotics Systems Labs at ETH Zurich. The successor to Anymal it is distinguished from other quadruped robots by having wheels as well as legs and by its ability to transform to bipedal mode. The standing mode not only allows for a higher field of view, but also enables practical skills such as calling an elevator and opening doors. As explained by Marko Bjelonic with a payload of 50 kilos it is designed for last mile delivery and could also have a role as a life-saving rescue robot.

One barrier to overcome in having a robot like Anymal deployed in situations where humans are vulnerable and potentially distressed is the fear factor. Even when robot dogs are combined with Chat GTP to give them the ability to hear and respond to speech, their appearance is far from comforting.

However perhaps  Chinese robotics company Weilan, which recently showed off its newest robot dog at a electronics trade show has the answer. "BabyAlpha" is the updated version of has been modified to make it appear cute and friendly - the archetypal "man's best friend". How did they do that - they gave it ears.

weilandog

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Finally, a robot dog that doesn't look like it's going to murder us all

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Last Updated ( Sunday, 21 January 2024 )