The Ulti-Mutt animal? Chinese tech company is developing robot dogs

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An AlphaDog quadruped robot in a workshop at Weilan Intelligent Technology Corporation in Nanjing, China.

Nanjing, China:

He’s fast, obeys commands, and leaves no nasty surprises on the floor – meet the AlphaDog, a robotic response to two of China’s burgeoning loves: pets and tech.

The high-tech dog uses sensors and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to ‘hear’ and ‘see’ their surroundings – and can even walk around.

“It’s really very similar to a real dog,” says Ma Jie, chief technology officer at Weilan, the company behind the product.

AlphaDog follows in the paw prints of “Spot,” a four-legged machine designed for industrial use by Boston Dynamics that became an internet sensation after appearing in a series of viral YouTube videos.

Its Nanjing-based creators instead target the mainstream market and say their robot dog – which travels at a speed of nearly 15 kilometers (nine miles) per hour and spins in place like a horny puppy – is the fastest on the market. . .

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With four metal legs, he’s more stable than a real dog, Ma explains as a member of her team quickly hits him to prove the point.

“It can predict the friction and the height of the ground (to) adjust its height, adjust the stride frequency and adapt to the environment,” he told TBEN, as the robot slowly sails in going up a staircase.

Its creators use 5G technology, super-fast internet speeds with immediate reaction times, to operate the robot autonomously.

Ma studied reinforcement learning – the study of how to reinforce actions through rewards or punishment – at the University of Oxford and says he used this knowledge to explain how the AI ​​dog imitates canine habits.

Dog ownership was banned under the leadership of Communist China’s founder Mao Zedong – but has since exploded dramatically.

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And in the first month of sales, over 1,800 AlphaDogs rolled off the shelves, despite the high price tag of 16,000 yuan ($ 2,400).

“Orders are mostly coming from computer developers, tech geeks and also kids, who seem to really like it,” Ma said.

Deployment of the robot

As China seeks to improve the skills of its workforce, Beijing has made huge investments in robotics and AI.

Robots are already being used to deliver packages, serve in restaurants, offer information at stations and even take throat swabs for Covid-19 tests.

Weilan’s workshop is made up of young tech enthusiasts, filled with pencil sketches and a central obstacle course of stairs and slopes for machines to resonate during testing.

The developers hope that the future uses of their four-legged friend will benefit the visually impaired.

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“Helping people with disabilities is an important direction of development for us,” says Ma. “When the robot dog also has the function of seeing, hearing and talking, it can easily interact with people with disabilities and take them to the supermarket. or the bus. “

Future software updates will include the “barking” dog – and beyond, even add human voices to enable conversations between pet and owner.

There is also a larger “company” dog model, designed for industrial machine or pipe inspections.

The next generation of AlphaDog in pet form could also introduce “personalities” to the dog’s toolbox to make them even more canine, as well as extend its somewhat brief battery life.

(This story was not edited by The Bharat Express News on Social Platforms.)

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