Pets of the Future: The First 3D-Printed Robot Dog

3D-printed prostheses are a thing of the past – 3D-printed dogs is the new big thing in the printing industry. Add a robotic body and the capacity for deep learning and you get Astro, the first 3D-printed robot dog that could provide people with a disability with a new sense of life.

robot dog

A pinch of robotics, a tablespoon of 3D printing, a slice of artificial intelligence and a dash of deep learning. Mix it all together et voilà: Astro, the first 3D-printed robot dog!

Robotics are slowly entering a variety of industrial sectors and have set new standards for the quality and potential of modern technologies especially in the medical branch. Among the most groundbreaking developments is the ReWalk system which helps paralyzed people to walk again. Progress in this area can thus change lives.

Astro, the robot dog might, at first sight, not provide humankind with such useful functions, but a second glance at him is definitely worth it.

Who let the (3D-Printed) Dogs out?

Astro is a product of FAU’s Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Laboratory (MPCR) in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. The system that made the birth of Astro possible, was developed by the American engineering and robotics design company Boston Dynamics.

All in all, Astro was developed through a joined effort of a number of neuroscientists, IT experts, artists, biologists, psychologists, high school students and undergraduate and graduate students at FAU.

Print your Doberman

The basis of Astro is a quadruped robotic system, to which the FAU team attached a 3D-printed head that makes it look like a Doberman Pinscher.

Probably the most fascinating attribute of Astro: He does not only try to look and walk like a dog, but he can actually see, hear, train and learn because of his computerized (simulation of a) brain. Over a dozen sensors enable him to consume environmental input and process it all thanks to Nvidia Jetson TX2 graphics processing units. The combination of numerous outstanding technologies lets Astro see and search thousands of faces in a database, smell the air to detect foreign substances, and hear and respond to distress calls that fall outside a human’s audible hearing range.

Explanations and descriptions aside, here’s what Astro actually looks like:

The details of his 3D-printed head are striking, aren’t they?

What is it Good For?

Just like robotic technologies and 3D printing solutions alone found their way into various industries, Astro could prove advantageous in a number of application fields. Thanks to his ability to consume and process a variety of information from his environment, Astro’s future could include the detection of guns, explosives and gun residue and he might soon be fit to assist police, the military, and security personnel.

Similar to other robotic technologies, people with a disability could benefit from Astro: He can be programmed to function as a service dog for people with a visual impairment or to monitor the medical diagnostics of people with other conditions (like regular service dogs have been trained to do).

At the moment, he only responds to commands such as “sit,” “stand” and “lie down”, but the future will show, where the limits of Astro’s potential lie. Also, it can’t take long until the masterminds behind Astro develop further printed dog breeds.

A dog-sized robot that can perceive and process outer influences could bring a new sense of life to people suffering from diverse medical conditions. Where else can you imagine Astro to be an enrichment?