Amateur's best friend - Hackster.io

Amateur’s best friend – Hackster.io

Dogs haven’t earned their reputation as man’s best friend without good reason. Several studies have shown that dog owners feel less lonely, have healthier blood pressure levels, and tend to have better overall mental health than their non-dog counterparts. But there is another side to that coin as well. If you want to leave your home for a day, and not destroy your furniture, or you’d rather not hand your retirement savings over to a vet, you may want to think twice about dog ownership. And have you ever tried to learn robotics from a dog? I have yet to meet a dog that knows the difference between a servo and a chew toy.

For those who are risking their blood pressure and decide not to own a dog, there is another option available from the team at MangDang. They released their dog-like Mini Pupper robot kit earlier this year and are currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to produce an upgraded Mini Pupper 2. Companion. It might fall a bit lower in the best friends department, but it seems like an ideal platform for learning bots, with even advanced functions like artificial intelligence being supported.

The kit comes with all the parts needed to assemble the robotic pup’s quad body, as well as upgraded servos that provide location feedback information (a “Pro” version is available which also provides feedback on torque and speed) to control the robot’s movements. The Raspberry Pi 4 and the ESP32 microcontroller integrated into the custom circuit board provide more than enough processing power for the typical robotics enthusiast. Inertial measurement unit, microphone, touch sensor, and a 240 x 320 pixel LCD screen come standard. For more advanced creations, the Mini Pupper 2 can optionally be equipped with a LIDAR, 3D camera, and many other sensors.

By incorporating easy-to-use tools like the Raspberry Pi 4 and the Arduino-compatible ESP32 microcontroller, the Mini Pupper 2 makes it easy to bring ideas to life. The team at MangDang suggests that their bot would be useful as an educational tool, and it appears to be a perfect fit for such applications. By supporting ROS1 – and by release, ROS2 as well – bots will grow with their users as they learn more about bots.

The robot was put in its stride by demonstrating that it tracks objects, stays still while surfaces shift angles, writes with pen on paper, and makes all kinds of cool foot movements. There is plenty of documentation, both written and visual, to get new users up to speed, whether they are a student or a more advanced hobbyist. A few conveniences like automatic machine calibration should also help make the Mini Pupper 2 very beginner-friendly.

There is still time if you wish Take part in the Kickstarter campaignBut these robot dogs aren’t exactly cheap. The Mini Pupper 2 Basic Kit starts at $429, and if you want to upgrade to the Pro kit pre-assembled with the enhanced servos, the price goes up to $649. For more advanced designs with LIDAR or other sensors, they will also be separate purchases. But if that’s in your price range, the well-polished Mini Pupper 2 seems like a frustration-free way to get into the world of robotics.

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