Xiaomi CyberDog is an unexpectedly affordable open-source robot puppy

Xiaomi is getting in on the robot business, with the new Xiaomi CyberDog revealed to take on Boston Dynamics but at a fraction of the cost. Announced today alongside the Xiaomi Mix 4 smartphone, the CyberDog will be priced at RMB 9,999, or the equivalent of under $1,600.

A Boston Dynamics Spot robot-dog, in contrast, costs around $70k. The difference, mind, is that Xiaomi is looking to owners of the CyberDog to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes to programming.

The software is open source, and Xiaomi is setting up its own community of robotics developers who'll be able to share activity modules and other components they develop. Software runs on an NVIDIA Jetson Xavier NX chipset, which Xiaomi boasts has 21 TOPS of pricing power from its 384 CUDA cores, 48 Tensor Cores, and twin deep learning acceleration engines, combined with a 128GB "near industrial-grade" SSD.

The CyberDog itself is, unsurprisingly, modeled on a quadruped animal. At the front there's an Intel RealSense D450 Depth camera, to which Xiaomi has added various cameras and other sensors of the sort it uses in smartphones. That includes binocular ultra-wide fisheye lenses, ultrasonic senses, GPS, and touch sensors, plus a six microphone array.

As for movement, Xiaomi apparently developed its own servo motors. They have a maximum torque output of 32 Nm, and can rotate at up to 220 rpm, meaning the CyberDog can move at up to 3.2 meters per second – or over 7 mph. It can also do complex motions, like backflips. It's rated to carry up to 3 kg (6.6 pounds) in payload.

Xiaomi has developed action modules for things like autonomous object tracking, SLAM, and centimeter-scale obstacle avoidance and navigation. CyberDog is capable of analyzing its surroundings in real-time, the company promises, along with generating navigational maps and plotting a course to its destination, avoiding obstacles on the way. With facial recognition, it can spot and track an owner, following them through rooms while working its way around potential obstructions.

In addition to the included remote, and Xiaomi's CyberDog smartphone app, there's voice assistant integration for hands-free control. Xiaomi is also leaving the path open to adding more sensors or peripherals. There are three USB Type-C ports and an HDMI port, for example, so that owners could mount anything from a search light to a panoramic or motion camera, or even LIDAR.

To begin with, Xiaomi says it's releasing 1,000 CyberDog units, priced at RMB 9,999 apiece. For the moment there's no word on availability outside of China, unfortunately.