Sunday, September 24, 2023
HomeTechnologyThis LiDAR-equipped 30-Pound Robotic Dog Could Be Yours for $1,600

This LiDAR-equipped 30-Pound Robotic Dog Could Be Yours for $1,600

If Boston Dynamic’s $75,000 robot dog spot is too rich for you, how about a stripped-down consumer version? Chinese robotics company Unitree’s latest robot dog is the Unitree Go 2, which starts at a staggering $1,600. After shipping fees, fees, and all that, it will cost more than $2,400, but it’s still a bargain compared to an industrial robot.

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if robotics startups are serious and have real products to sell, but we want to stress that this isn’t Unitree’s first robot. This is the company’s third-generation consumer product, along with two models of its better “industrial” robots that compete with Boston Dynamics.

The Unitree Go 2 stands just under 16 inches high, measures 27 inches long from head to tail, and weighs 33 pounds. It has a camera, flashlight, and LiDAR sensor that continuously rotates 360 degrees on the face. The robot has 12 motors—we think that means three per leg—that makes this robot extremely agile, capable of handling all kinds of uneven outdoor terrain, and like any good dog, it does many tricks. The Go2 packs an 8,000mAh battery for about two hours of playtime, along with Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth for connecting to apps. The base model has a maximum speed of 2.5 meters per second.

The more expensive $2,800 “Pro” model adds a speaker and microphone combo for voice commands, media playback, and intercom functions. There is a “Wireless Vector Positioning Tracker” for the following commands, 4G connectivity, faster CPU, higher max speed of 3.5m/s. There’s also an undisclosed-priced “EDU” model, which can reach speeds of up to 5 m/s, adds a 9-amp fast-charging system, and a 15,000mAh battery. It also has a “foot force sensor,” which seems pretty important for some of the tricks that happen in the video.

The accompanying video is a constant barrage of tricks, but it’s not really clear which versions of the dog are capable of performing them. Some versions of this dog can do jumps, flips, stretches, shake hands, sits, and all kinds of jumping on two legs. It can not only go up and down the four stairs on four legs, but also go down two legs while standing on the hands.

One thing about the built-in robot voice is that no one at Unitree seems to speak English. The bot’s text-to-speech engine displays some really broken English in its responses, including the sentence, “I’m going to dance to make you happy.” The site is similar Close To correct the English but it’s not quite there, and all the footnotes in the spec sheet are jumbled up, which makes it a bit difficult to understand, but we’re doing our best. For example, the EDU spec sheet lists “Charging Pile Compatibility” – I guess that means this is the only version that can use the charging dock. It also supports “secondary development”, which should be some kind of programming interface for the bot dog. Some parts of the spec sheet are still in Chinese, such as “RTT 2.0 图传”, which apparently means it can send video to the app.

Since this is a product released in 2023, of course, it has ChatGPT integration. After about 15 seconds into the video, the owner asks the dog to “shake hands.” [sic] It says “automatic code generation via GPT” on the video, and some of the code just pops off. This seems to indicate that the bot dog doesn’t know the basic “shake” dog command, so it asks ChatGPT for code on how to do it, and then it will execute that code and hope it works. I’m skeptical.

By the way, there are all kinds of toys and accessories you can buy for your robot dog. There is an automatic charging dock, but honestly, it looks alarmingly flimsy, even in the promotional video. First, there are two very large metal contacts that the robot bends down to contact. The sole structure of the base is the thinnest plastic milk carton possible, so the whole thing flexes and flops when the robot approaches it to crouch down. On the larger side of things is the aluminum robot arm attachment, which makes it feel like a cheaper knockoff.

The robot dog is now up for pre-order, but understand that you’ll be charged a hefty fee to get one of these in the States. The shipping cost is $400, and the site says the United States needs to add 25 percent of the tariff.

Listing image by Unitree



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