Recently, Weilan has to a whip-fast dog that obeys commands and doesn’t leave unpleasant surprises on the floor. The AlphaDog is a robotic high-tech hound that uses sensors and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to see and hear in its environment. You can even that it out for walks.
Ma Jie, chief technology officer at Weilan, “It’s really very similar to a real dog.”
The Nanjing-based creators say that their robotic dog moves at a speed of almost 15 kilometers or nine miles per hour. It spins on the spot like an excited puppy.
Ma goes further to explains that with four metal legs it is more stable than a real dog.
“It can predict the friction and height of the ground (to) adjust its height, adjust the stride frequency, and adapt to the environment,” he says, as it slowly navigates going up a set of stairs.
Creators have used 5G technology, super-fast internet speeds, to make the robot operate autonomously.
Ma has studied reinforcement learning at the University of Oxford. He says that he has used that knowledge to help the AI dog learn how to mimics canine habits.
In the first month, despite the hefty price tag of 16,000 yuan or $2,400, Weilan has managed to sell more than 1,800 AlphaDogs off the shelves.
“Orders are mostly from computer developers, tech geeks, and also kids, who really seem to like it,” said Ma.
The country has been making huge investments in robotics and AI as China seeks to upskill its workforce. The robots are already used to deliver parcels, offer information at stations, serve in restaurants, and even take throat swabs for Covid-19 tests.
Developers are hoping that in the future their four-legged friend could benefit the visually impaired.
“To help the disabled is an important developing direction for us,” says Ma. “When the robot dog has the function of vision, hearing, and dialogue too, it can easily interact with disabled people, and lead them to the supermarket or the bus.”