Barking mad

Wannabe supervillains rejoice: You can 3D print a robot dog army now

Modeled after Boston Dynamics' (in)famous Spot robot, the quadruped can be controlled over Wi-Fi.

Boston Dynamics’ famous quadrupedal Spot robot is still a must-have for aspiring Bond villains everywhere, but with a starting price tag of nearly $75,000, it remains incredibly expensive. For years, world domination seemed out of reach for anyone on a budget, but that looks to be changing now thanks to researchers’ work at the Open Dynamic Robot Initiative (ODRI).

Featuring experts from such prestigious organizations as the Max-Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems and New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering, the ODRI recently unveiled new, open-source plans for a cost-effective four-legged Spot alternative nicknamed Solo that can be largely assembled using a 3D printer. Check out a video on an earlier, wired version below, before they got the Wi-Fi figured out.

Online plans available now — As 3D Printing Industry explains, ODRI’s “robot platform can be used to research animal-based limb movement over surfaces such as gravel, soil, sand, and mud, and reinforcement learning for complex behaviors such as parkour.” And, obviously, world domination via a cheap robot army.

Plans are available for free in their entirety here and include instructions on how to integrate a Wi-Fi remote controller. Please remember, when countries begin succumbing to your whims and your power swells to insurmountable levels, that we were the ones who showed you these designs.

Speaking of robot parkour — Don’t worry, you don’t have to constantly settle for four-legged automatons to do your bidding; there are plenty of bipedal robots in the works, too, and they’re consistently getting more advanced. Take the gold standard designs over at Boston Dynamics, whose two-limbed models are able to compete in creepy robot parkour Olympics, not to mention... um... dancing.

Not even the creepiest robots on the market — Despite all we’ve just shown and reminded you, these are far from the most unsettling ‘bots available for purchase. The winner of that particular ignoble award goes to (big surprise) Amazon for its recently unveiled “home surveillance” robot called Astro.

Although Amazon is attempting to market the thing as a cute butler-esque assistant, its main purpose is to patrol your house, follow people around, and, of course, transfer all of that collected data back to its corporate overlords. It’s also apparently really bad at its job, but hey, it’s sort of cute? That’s gotta be worth at least some of its $1,000 price tag, right?