Robotics specialist MangDang has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Mini Pupper, a compact educational robot based on the Stanford Pupper platform and powered by the Robot Operating System (ROS) running on a Raspberry Pi.
"Picture a dog-shaped quadruped robot that can hop, trot, and run around, supporting 12-DoF [Degrees of Freedom], ROS (Robot Operating System) SLAM [Simultaneous Localization and Mapping], Navigation, and OpenCV AI functions — while being inexpensive," says Chu Hung Pan of ManDang's creation. "Mini Pupper is the dream sidekick for you to learn and experiment with robotics, exploring advanced functions of a dynamic robot that would typically not be available at this price point."
Built in collaboration with Nathan Kau and based on his Stanford Pupper project, the Mini Pupper is a compact and low-cost quadrupedal robot built around a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B single-board computer. Servos on the legs provide 12 degrees of freedom in movement, while a 320x240 IPS display on the front gives the robot a personality. The chassis is 3D-printed, and an internal 800mAh battery gives the robot the ability to operate free from a tether.
For those eager to expand the robot's capabilities, it's designed to be compatible with the OpenCV OAK-D LITE AI camera system — giving it easy access to low-power on-device computer vision and machine learning capabilities.
The kit-form robot doesn't come completely ready for all functions, however, even in its "Fully Mini Pupper" format. While the latter is ready to run right out of the box, it lacks a camera module or LIDAR module for SLAM functionality — with MangDang offering one or both as add-ons.
The campaign is now funding on Kickstarter with physical rewards starting at HK$1,980 for only the custom electronics or $2,915 for a kit which includes everything bar a controller, microSD Card, and Raspberry Pi 4 SBC. The "Full Mini Pupper," meanwhile, is priced at $4,591 — though camera and LIDAR sensors are extra. All rewards are expected to begin shipping in November this year.
The schematics and source code, meanwhile, have already been published here on Hackster.io under the permissive MIT license.