Unitree Robotics shows off Laikago quadruped robot

One glance at the Laikago robot and if you have ever laid eyes on a Boston Dynamics quadruped you will see the resemblance. The builder of the Laikago robot isn't afraid to say that he is a big fan of Boston Dynamics, Xing Wang will tell you that Marc Raibert is his idol. Raibert is the founder and president of Boston Dynamics.

Wang had lined up his own financing and started a robotics company in Hangzhou, which is near Shanghai, China. Wang plans to build his own four-legged robots with the goal of making them as affordable as smartphones or drones. The Laikago is the first robot from the company and is designed to be a research platform for scientists and roboticists. Wang figures that his robot may eventually be used in package delivery.

Wang wants his quadruped robots to be smaller and simpler than the big bots Boston Dynamics builds. The goal is to help normal people with things like carrying objects or for the bots to be used as companions. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done for Laikago. Right now the bot isn't autonomous and has to be remotely operated via a WiFi controller. It has no stereo cameras or lidar sensors, but they could be added with additional modules.

The bot uses a control system, motion control algorithms, mechanical structure all create by Unitree from scratch. The motors, drivers, and force sensors are also all created by Unitree. The Laikago bot will cost between $20,000 and $30,000 for starters, but eventually, Wang thinks that refinements and higher volume will reduce that cost.

Laikago is a very stable robot, it can remain stable on uneven surfaces or when kicked. Wang says that some of the motions that the robot makes to remain stable he didn't specifically program the robot to do. The performance of the control algorithms is "surprisingly good" says Wang.

SOURCE: Spectrum.ieee.org