OpenCat: Robot cat purrs with Raspberry Pi

By Lucy Hattersley. Posted

OpenCat is a robot cat project built by Chinese roboticist Rongzhong Li. He has created a robotic cat from scratch, including realistic movements and Alexa integration.

Rongzhong started with some modelling sticks and a Raspberry Pi beginner kit, all of which is “still integrated somewhere on the cat,” he tells us. You can see OpenCat’s evolution in this video:

The maker wanted to use a Raspberry Pi to power OpenCat because of the “easy access to hardware interfaces under a Linux environment” rather than the Pi being “a tiny and cheap computer.”

 An early iteration of OpenCat, using modelling sticks to make the body

OpenCat: Building a robot cat with Raspberry Pi

Rongzhong studied many mammalian gaits, and believes “different gaits can be generated by simple tuning amplitude, phase duration, and other tiny parameters”. OpenCat is “not constrained by [being a] cat.”

He found that he had to use an Arduino ‘slave’ to handle the robotics, while the Raspberry Pi handles higher functions such as the Alexa integration.
Currently, OpenCat uses Alexa “to trigger certain behaviours,” but there are also references to ‘hosting video streams’ through OpenCat. As Rongzhong says, voice assistants “can now run on a pet-like body, and interact with people in a pet-like manner. [This] may encourage more people to embrace robotics at home.”

Rongzhong is currently developing ways to make OpenCat financially self-supporting – whether that means selling OpenCat kits or something else, we’ll have to wait and see.

[Update: OpenCat has been renamed Nybble and a kit is now available.]


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