Written by Lucy Black   
Saturday, 24 February 2018

OpenCat is a project to build a robot cat and is an interesting project that demonstrates how much you can do with not a great deal.


Sadly, despite its name, it isn't currently open source - so be warned. But it is still worth seeing and, after all, we all like cat videos.

The inventor, Rongzhong Li, seemed to want to make it open source originally, but now has ideas about producing a commercial kit.

We are developing programmable and highly maneuverable quadruped robots for STEM education and AI-enhanced services. Its compact and bionic design makes it the only affordable consumer robot that mimics various mammal gaits and reacts to surroundings. Its innovative soft joints reduce wear or shock and extends the lifetime of hardware.

This video shows the development stages of my robotic cat. It is now patent pending. We are currently forming a startup and looking for potential collaborations. I can be reached at:

I can say now that fame, rather than fortune, is the most likely outcome for a project like this and open sourcing it as OpenCat is the best way forward to achieve this. 

The current cat is the result of one and a half years work on seven different models. The most interesting thing about the hardware is that it makes use of an Arduino for motion control and a Raspberry Pi for higher level functioning.

Take a look at the video to see the development:


The twin controller architecture is interesting and currently there are two versions being developed:

  • The mini model is a stand-alone 8-DoF Arduino motion module that holds all skills for multiple gaits and real-time adaptation. It can also be a "leg-hat" for your existing project. It's targeted at STEM education and Maker community. The price will be similar to some robotic car kits.  

  • The full version uses a Pi for more AI-enhanced perception and instructs an upgraded 16-DoF motion module. Besides Pi's wifi and bluetooth, it also carries ground contact, touch, infrared, distance, voice and night vision interfaces. All modules have been tested on its light weighted body. It also adopts some bionic skeleton designs to make it morphologically resembles a cat. It's targeted at consumer market with less tech backgrounds. You can imagine it as a legged Android phone or Alexa that has an app store for third party extensions. I have a regular routine for duplicating the model, but need better industrialization to reduce the labor. I expect the price to be close to a smartphone.

I wish the project luck, but I also wish that it was open source so we could all contribute.


More Information

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