Mini pupper robot review

By Rob Zwetsloot. Posted

Before the year 2000, we thought robots would be walking around on two legs. While this may have been because of various logistical issues and metaphors in TV sci-fi, it still didn’t quite prepare us for the amount of wheeled robots that have become the standard.

Mini Pupper (£335 / $399) breaks that mould. While not bipedal like the old Rapiro, it’s still great to see a step in the right direction (pun unintended, but it’s being left in). Not only does it look like the kind of robot we always expected, it’s also well-designed to act like a robot, in that it has a lot of technology that allows it to be automated.

ROS (Robotic Operating System) is the OS installed on Raspberry Pi for Mini Pupper, and Mini Pupper includes OpenCV, SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), and other navigation technologies. It will create a map of an area, much like a Roomba so that it can navigate it better.

Pupper in the window

Our Mini Pupper came fully built, however, you do have the option to save some money and supply your own parts, like a Raspberry Pi, so that you can construct it yourself. While the construction methods are constantly being updated and improved, it’s not a quick build and it is a touch fiddly – it is quite a small kit after all!

Once constructed, the body feels pretty sturdy though, and the legs are much better than they may seem in photos. It weighs just over half a kilo, yet the legs don’t really have much of a problem holding it up. Out of the box, you can connect a Bluetooth controller to move around Mini Pupper and it has many movement modes such as trotting, lowering, raising, sideways shuffling, and many more. The makers claim 12 degrees of freedom because of this.

New tricks

Customising and programming Mini Pupper requires you to plug Raspberry Pi into a PC so that you can access ROS onboard. Here, you can start playing around with the facial settings and also get it connected to your wireless network – the latter of which you’ll need to make use of the navigation abilities and mapping.

Movement of Mini Pupper looks fairly odd, but it can move around just fine on a flat surface, although we had huge trouble on carpeted floor, so your ability to make it map a room may depend on the floor. As it’s for learning and tweaking with code, it will likely mostly live on a tabletop, so we can forgive it for that.

While it is quite expensive, it is very impressive with the amount it can do – thanks to the mixture of parts and ROS running it. It’s also fairly expandable as well.



A fun little robot that is a great way to try out several kinds of robotic programming. Might stay on your desk though.

Price £335 / $399

Specs Technologies: SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping), Full Self-Navigation, OpenCV Physical specs: 209 × 109 × 165 mm, 560 g Electronics: 800 mAh battery, 240 × 320 LCD screen, 13 × custom servos

From The MagPi store