Quadruped Robot Thinks It’s A Puppy

puppybotBack at New York MakerFaire 2012, we noticed an amazing little steampunk quadruped robot walking around in the crowd outdoors. The robot was amazingly well executed, and had a unique ability to draw children over with it’s puppy like animations. It turns out this is [Drew’s] Little Walking Robot (AKA Puppy Bot).

Puppy Bot has actually been around for quite a while. He was born from the spare parts [Drew] had left over after competing in Robot Wars and Battlebots. The robots in these competitions were often controlled by Radio Control plane or car transmitters. Most of these systems are sold as packs for an RC car or plane. In addition to the transmitter and receiver, the pack usually included a battery and 3 or 4 servos. Standard RC servos were much too weak for use in battle robots, so they remained in his parts box.

On what [Drew] calls a slow weekend, he started putting the servos together, and ended up with a basic robot that could crawl around the room. After that the robot took on a life of its own. [Drew] improved the battery system, and added a microcontroller to automate the various gaits and animations. He brought the robot along with him to one of his battlebot competitions, and it took home the “Coolest Robot” award – even though it wasn’t actually competing!

The robot’s first major public outing was at GenCon 2005, where the crowds loved it. In the years since, [Drew] has continued to iterate on puppy bot’s design. He has come up with several specific goals which he outlines in his blog.  Among them are Crowd-friendliness, Ease of repair, and Simplicity. All these goals grew from experiences he had while repairing and upgrading Puppy Bot. We think these goals, and [Drew’s] entire blog are a great source of information to any aspiring robot builder.

12 thoughts on “Quadruped Robot Thinks It’s A Puppy

  1. As the builder, I’m surprised that Hackaday decided to feature this since they already did once before. It’s also a bit of a dead project at the moment, the MakerFaire 2012 outing was the last time it worked. This bot tends to beat itself to death while walking. It needs new servos, batteries, servo control board, the wiring harness has nicked insulation everywhere, and there are cracked welds in the frame. I should really get around to redesigning and rebuilding it from scratch now that I have a 3D printer that works well.

    1. Drew – I wrote up the feature because your robot left that much of an impression back in 2012. (I’ve only been on staff here for a month or so now) Please do rebuild it and if possible give us some more information on the build.

      1. Thanks for featuring it again, the version that you saw in 2012 was a lot better than the original you first features. I’ll have to try and get it rebuilt again in time for Makerfaire 2014.

    1. The firmware is fairly simple. The robot is basically a wireless puppet. The firmware is in the transmitter side, and it just takes the analog inputs from the controls and translates it through one of several different mathematical maps (selectable by the buttons on the controller) into servo positions. The gait is actually completely down to my hands on the joysticks, there’s no gait programmed into the bot itself, so everything it’s doing it actually just me puppeteering it. If I ever rebuild a second version of it I may experiment with actually putting a controller in that can automate walking at least, but that will probably require foot pressure sensors and other kinetic feedback to get right.

      1. This is the first time I’ve seen this, there is something extremely attractive about it. I wouldn’t mind some basic automation and having several wandering around my house, it kind of reminds me of the tamed head crab in half life 2.

        Some beefier servos and basic shock absorbers in the legs could go a long ways…thinking I might go and model my own version in inventor now.

  2. hey
    i also wannna do a similar stuff. i want to design a robot for surveillance where the robot will be fully autonomous and it wil move for point A to point B autonomously.
    i want u to help me in designing the autonomous motion planning system to go form one given place to the other using sensors n stuff…i m stuck pls help

    i have bought the system from here just for making prototype of the actual system since i got it at a good price…

    pls reply

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