If you’re familiar with robotics in popular culture then you’ll recognize the name Boston Dynamics, a robotics development company that rose to stardom through viral videos of its dog-like robots.
Boston Dynamics is a subsidiary of the for-profit company SoftBank, which is looking to sell Boston Dynamics’ robot technology to military and industrial buyers. Unfortunately for us makers, this means that all the designs and plans for these robots are unavailable for public consumption.
Former toy designer and maker James Burton is looking to change this through his openDog project. On his Youtube channel, James documents the process of constructing his open-source quadruped robot. He takes us all the way from designing and CAD through construction and programming.
All of the software and CAD files are available on GitHub, organized by the files he uses in each YouTube episode.
In addition to merely documenting the build process, James does a phenomenal job explaining many of the core kinematic principles necessary for the design of such a robot. I highly recommend watching this series — it will give you a much deeper appreciation of all the work that goes into many aspects of robotics.
openDog cannot yet walk, but through a control pad James can control how the robot stands and balances itself. Next James is looking to replace all of the 8-bit Arduino-based microcontrollers currently powering the project and replace them with a more powerful Teensy microcontroller.
His ultimate goal is to develop a complete open-source robotic dog platform. Once he’s done with all the low-level work he hopes to begin implementation of higher-level tasks such as designing a navigation system.
Once again, be sure to check out James’ openDog Youtube playlist!