Introducing my new pet dog, Bittle
I am a proud father of a new programmable robot, a pet dog Bittle. Bittle is the second robot made by Petoi, and a successor to Nybble…
I am a proud father of a new programmable robot, a pet dog Bittle. Bittle is the second robot made by Petoi, and a successor to Nybble. While Anki Vector (now owned by DDL) is a great programable robot for Artificial Intelligence (AI) based tasks such as perception, path planning as well animations, Bittle is a pretty sophisticated mechanical quadruped robot. It is a close lookalike of Spot from Boston Dynamics but at 1/300th the cost, making it viable as a home companion. Petoi founded by Rongzhong Li is the developer of OpenCat, the open-source quadruped robot platform.The following figure showing the OpenCat framework from Petoi best illustrates Bittle’s potential.
The body shown in the above framework is that of Nybble, the first version of Petoi’s robots. Bittle’s frame is that of a dog. Besides the frame, Bittle has 9 precision servo motors. 2 servos are used per leg, one to control the shoulder and one to control the leg joint. One servo is used on the neck. An Arduino board (Nyboard) acts as the spinal cord of Bittle, where you can program a precise set of maneuvers required for a complex task such as walking, or crawling, or even peeing. Nyboard can also receive a LED signal and decide on which pre-programmed operation to execute.
The capabilities of Bittle are endless, because you can write your own programs to design new skills of Bittle, such as walking on steps, or backflipping. To take Bittle to the next level, you can connect the Nyboard to a Raspberry Pi. One of the cool things about Bittle is that the battery is sufficient to drive the Nyboard as well as a Raspberry Pi, which implies that you dont have to worry about another power source for the Pi. This allows for all kinds of cool projects such as building SLAM for Bittle (Something that Anki Vector excelled in). There is also a advanced controller board called BiBoard, which will have inbuilt wireless capability and much more processing power.
An example of a very cool project would be to make Bittle maneuver its way through a room avoiding all obstacles, just like Anki Vector can.
Another cool aspect of the Bittle is that you can assemble your Bittle using the Bittle kit. This may not be a very easy process unless you are a pro at assembling gadgets (It took me approximately 10 hours to assemble my Bittle), but nevertheless there is a lot to learn. For me, the biggest lesson was learning how difficult it is to balance objects such as robots on four legs. Our own brains pick up crawling and walking by observation, but in reality, these are such complex operations for our bodies. If you are assembling your own Bittle, my suggestion would be to watch the Bittle assembly video a few times, and also read the Bittle user manual thoroughly before you start. One thing to remember is that the current Bittle Arduino code works only with version 2.6.1 of the IRRemote library, so make sure that you downgrade your library version before compiling and uploading the code to Bittle.
Here are two cool videos I made with Bittle. In the first one, Bittle can get up on all four legs after falling. The seond one shows Bittle walking. Note that at the time of shooting the video, I still didn’t have all the legs calibrated correctly, hence Bittle doesnt walk in a straight line.
If you want your own Bittle, you can buy one at IndieGogo. Bittle is currently shipping and you can expect to get him soon if you buy now. There is also a ton of information on the Bittle forums. Rongzhong is very active on the forums, so you can get a quick answer if you need one.
If you enjoyed this article, please follow my publication: “Programming Robots” for more interesting articles. I also have an online course to teach AI with the help of Anki Vector available at: https://robotics.thinkific.com I will feel honored to have you as a student. I am running a 50% discount to help students catch up their skills over spring break.