close up of the xiaomi cyberdog face

Ubuntu runs on all sorts of things, from gateways to games consoles, and now we can add robot dog to the list!

Chinese hardware company Xiaomi recently unveiled an experimental four-legged robot called CyberDog. Their mechanical manifestation of man’s best friend isn’t just cute but state-of-the-art, easy-to-use, and affordable.

“Face recognition technology makes CyberDog adopt pet-like features, such as following an owner…”

And cost is a real motivator here.

CyberDog costs from $1540 which, when compared to $74k for Boston Dynamic’s canine competitor, is pretty incredible. By making the CyberDog (comparatively) affordable to research institutions and startups Xiaomi wants to jumpstart a robotics revolution for four legged robots.

CyberDog is a world away from the sort of robo-pets I grew up with. It comes kitted out with a score of high-performance sensors *including cameras, touch, GPS), servos, and onboard AI software. It’s ‘super precision visual detection system’ is capable of autonomous recognition, SLAM mapping, and navigation and obstacle avoidance functions too.

“The use of face recognition technology makes CyberDog adopt pet-like features, such as following the owner in a wide-open space, creating a navigation map through algorithms, and planning the optimal route to the next target point automatically,” Huang Changjiang, PM at Xiaomi, says.

a photo of the xiaomi cyberdog walking on a street in the rain
Who let the (Ubuntu) dogs out?

Heck, the CyberDog can even perform complex movements (don’t call them tricks) like backflips to underscore it agile manoeuvrability. Or to put it another way: this dog has some real bite to its bark.

A digital doggo needs a decent development environment to exist within and CyberDog’s operating system of choice is Ubuntu 18.04, running atop Nvidia’s Jetson Xavier NX platform.

“Ubuntu unlocks a rich ecosystem of open source tools and libraries, including ROS, to accelerate this development process”, say Canonical. “By choosing to work on Ubuntu, Xiaomi equips CyberDog with an unparalleled development environment. And we cannot wait to see what the industry builds on top of it.”

The future for this quadrupedal droid looks bright.

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