Malaysian Engineer Of Robot Dog That Looks Like Boston Dynamics’ Spot

Recently we came across a robot created by a Malaysian that looked like the Boston Dynamics Spot on Facebook.

Intrigued, I contacted its creator, Leom, who said his design was not inspired by Spot at all, despite its visual similarities. “In fact, all 4-legged robots will be alike. Just like any branded car has 4 wheels, ”he told Vulcan Post.

“It was my own inspiration, nothing to do with Boston Dynamics, who I think spent millions of dollars to create it. As a Malaysian I am proud to say that we have something that is 100% original. “

It started with legos

From the age of 9, Leom was inspired by everything mechanical and robotic. Since then he has created various small projects with Lego Technic sets and real hardware based on technical skills he acquired out of curiosity.

After graduating in automation and manufacturing engineering 13 years ago, he got a job in robotics. At the time, the web was showing limited resources of robots created by the Malays themselves. Most of the 4-legged robots he could find came from NASA or research institutes abroad.

“I was inspired by a UK 6 legged robot builder named Matt Denton. At that time he had the most amazing 6-legged robots, ”recalls Leom.

This influence became a fundamental goal for him to build a four-legged robot (a 4-legged robot) capable of walking.

Meet Cold Feet

By day, Leom is a machine design engineer at a Malaysian company that creates custom manufacturing and automated machines. He was working on his robotic hobby after work and on weekends.

But having a robotics hobby doesn’t come cheap. To manage the costs, he would design them in such a way that their parts could be easily purchased by an average consumer online.

Besides purchasing parts, the main structure of its robots is usually 3D printed, which significantly reduces the cost of a prototype. In all, he shared that he spent around 4,000 RM to acquire material for Cold Feet.

Named Cold Feet, or QSR-X2, the dog-like android is about the size of A4 paper (62.37 cm²), weighing around 350g. It is about 9 times smaller than the Boston Dynamics Spot (550 cm²), which is roughly the size of an A1 paper, weighing 31.7 kg.

Leom explained that the finished Cold Feet should be able to navigate and move independently. Otherwise, it can also be controlled via wireless gamepad or PC anywhere in the world via online remote control.

In addition, it will have obstacle avoidance capabilities for different terrain and a camera system to track faces. In fact, Cold Feet is the third version of Leom’s quadrupedal robot designs.

Its first was built in 2009, a prototype called the QSR-X1 which looked more like a spider. The main goal at the time was to allow him to walk, using a hard-coded fixed program that he completed within a few months.

Since appearance was not a priority here, it was built with simple, accessible components that it could find in the market. The project went into hibernation until 2017, where the goal is to advance its motion controls for smoother movement when walking.

“The hardest part of robotics for that fluid motion was to use something called ‘inverse kinematic computation’ on the robot you’re building,” he said.

Simply put, an engineer would need to derive a complex set of mathematical formulas to represent all the joints of the robot. Leom designed his own set of formulas within 6 months, which then helped with his final version of QSR-X1, Black Widow.

With Black Widow, looks mattered. Using the right materials for his robot eased the burden of assembly, while increasing its cost. It could also be controlled by a PC via bluetooth.

Now he remains focused on developing the features of Cold Feet and has no plans to build another more advanced robot anytime soon.

No mass production project

Black Widow on the left and her prototype on the right / Image credit: Leom

With Leom’s robots being more of a creative outlet to improve his technical skills, he told Vulcan Post that he doesn’t plan to monetize his creations just yet.

“If I understand correctly in Malaysia, even in other countries like Europe or the United States, only a very small group of people will really spend money on something like this unless it is for a essential need, “observed Leom.

He explained that it is difficult for the general public outside of engineering fields to understand its high prices. Many may not find a worthwhile investment either. When it comes to business sectors, countless safety rules and regulations will come into play, which will also lead to an increase in the cost of a robot.

“So monetizing might not be the right time yet, at least for now. But if we are targeting the leisure sector or personal educational goals, I think we might have a chance, ”he added.

In terms of the practical use of Cold Feet, Leom said those who would benefit the most from its commercialization would be the first responders.

Material from Cold Feet / Image Credit: Leom

Think of the firefighters called to rescue the victims of an earthquake. The robot, with its camera attached, can traverse rough terrain to find injured people trapped under rubble that would otherwise be dangerous for rescuers.

If the product is targeting the B2C sector, Leom assumes it would be more for entertainment or companion purposes, much like an Android pet.

Much like art, creators will always feel that there is something more to improve for their creation. Leom agreed, believing that Cold Feet has yet to reach its full potential.

“The key question is: at what stage do you justify the objective in the budget you allocate to it? I can have the ultimate goal for whatever works as ideal in my imagination, but when it comes to reality and practical issues, there are limits to current technology where we as a human race have no still no better way to solve it right now. “

Leom, engineer behind QSR-X2.

For now, allowing Cold Feet to navigate on its own without the need for human or remote controls (like a Roomba) is Leom’s ultimate endpoint.

  • You can read more about Leom here.
  • You can read more about the Malaysian startups we’ve covered here.

Featured Image Credit: Leom, Engineer Behind QSR-X2

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Jothi Venkat

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