We’ve seen many versions of the robodog emerge over the past few years.
Some are trained to be running companions.
Others can help you carry your groceries.
But the latest robodogs being developed take the robotic companion to the next level.
Researchers at Stanford University and Shanghai Qi Zhi Institute have been developing a new algorithm for robotic dogs.
The main thing that sets these dogs apart from others already on the market?
They are autonomous.
When used together, the words ‘autonomous’ and ‘robot’ can be kind of scary.
But this robotic version of man’s best friend is being developed for a noble cause.
The researchers have developed a vision-based algorithm.
This enables the robodogs to tackle obstacles and challenges in ways we haven’t seen before.
This agility is known as ‘parkour’.
They’re not the first robotic dogs to demonstrate it but they are the first able to combine it with being autonomous.
They can squeeze through tight spots, navigate confined spaces, jump across gaps, and scale tall objects.
They can also operate in the dark and interact with other robots.
Their algorithm, which acts as their ‘brain’, allows them to size up challenges and obstacles in front of them.
They can then imagine a number of possible solutions based on past experiences.
This unique skill set will allow them to be used in dangerous and difficult situations.
Because they can navigate rough terrain with ease, the dogs could be used to save stranded people after natural disasters.
They could also assist with search and rescue operations, surveillance, and other situations that could be hazardous for humans.
The researchers are developing this technology using cheap off-the-shelf robots that are already available.
They’re still fine-tuning the algorithm, but say their robodogs are quick learners.