Robotic everyone! MarsCat launched in China

There is no doubt that everyone loves cats. But sometimes on the way to finding a fluffy pet, an allergy or a busy work schedule suddenly gets in the way, which does not allow you to constantly look after your pet. However, it seems that the Chinese company Elephant Robotics has a solution for this case. Meet MarsCat – the world’s first bionic cat that will take care of itself if you are immersed in work.

“Bionic” is scientifically called an artificial mechanism endowed with the properties of a living being. And this fully applies to the robot pet created by the Chinese.

The MarsCat development process began back in 2016. And now, after several years of hard work, the company announces the launch of mass production of its unusual companions, which, for obvious reasons, will not cause allergies and, moreover, can easily do without the master’s attention in the event of a strong owner’s busyness.

Real cats are being replaced by robots

MarsCat is an unusual robotic cat invented by Chinese engineers

The creators note: “marsokot” is completely autonomous and does not require special instructions for control. Like a living animal, the robot cat walks, runs, plays with toys, meows with different intonations, even stretches, massages with its paws and digs in garbage, although, of course, it does not produce any waste.

An unusual pet is able to both communicate with a person and have fun alone, and depending on the behavior of the owner, MarsCat gradually changes its character. For example, if you talk a lot with an electronic cat, he will meow more in response, and if you play with him more often, he will be more sociable. All this is possible due to the fact that the robot cat has a complex artificial intelligence, with the help of which it constantly analyzes information and learns.

Thanks to sophisticated artificial intelligence, Marscat continuously learns and develops its own character in communication with the owner

In total, the robot cat is supposed to have six different types of character, which develop depending on communication with the owner. Yes, a pet can be

  • curious or reserved
  • energetic or lazy
  • sociable or, conversely, shy.

Each character variant is distinguished by its frequency of meowing, activity when interacting with a person, energy and even the tone of the sounds made. Moreover, the behavior of the robo-cat is influenced not only by the owner’s treatment, but also simply by the robot’s own observations of the person.

Like any pet, MarsCat is able to respond to its name and respond to about 20 commands, including “Hi”, “How are you?”, “Come here”, “Stop”, “Look at me”, “Hush”, even “Relax”, “Cat” and “Mimi”. The robot also takes into account the variations of commands when pronouncing them by a specific person: for example, “Come” instead of “Come here”. But it is by no means necessary that the pet will respond to the command he hears – like a very wayward live cat, the robot cat also “walks by itself” and decides for itself whether to respond to your words at any given moment.

Thanks to touch sensors, MarsCat not only sees and hears, but also feels touch

Thanks to sophisticated technology, MarsCat not only sees and hears, but also feels touch. Therefore, you can not only entertain a robotic cat with conversations and games, but also hug, stroke or even scratch his neck – the electronic pet will respond with pleasure by changing the image of the eyes or even purring.

Not only communication with the owner makes each robotic cat unique. Elephant Robotics offers customers to choose the color of their mechanical pet: “Marscat” can be

  • white,
  • black,
  • gray
  • or light beige.

If desired, after the purchase, the owner can change the color of the eyes of his pet using a special application “MarsApp”. Moreover, in addition to classic colors, the user is offered, for example, pupils-hearts, pupils-lightning or even a picture uploaded by the owner himself. Through the “MarsApp” application, you can also configure the robot to recognize the faces of specific people and correct the movements of the cat.

Pet can be reprogrammed

Anyone can reprogram a robo-cat by connecting to it via a computer

What is even more interesting, everyone can, if desired, change the character and habits of their robo-cat, simply reprogramming it for themselves. And this is not a liberty at all, unforeseen by the creators of the electronic pet. On the contrary, Elephant Robotics themselves stipulate this possibility, emphasizing the ease of the programming process.

That is why MarsCat can become not only an excellent home companion, but also an excellent material for teaching programming and robotics.

It is likely that the “live” robot will help scientists in professional research.

Not an easy process: the development of MarsCat began with such mechanisms

To reprogram the “Marsocat” to your own taste, you will need to connect the robot via the supplied cable to the computer. An open electronic system is responsible for programming, which allows almost complete control and programming of the robot’s functions. The MarsCat program is completely written in the well-known programming language “Python”.

How to feed an electric pet

Enviable independence: the robot itself finds its charging station and connects to it

You need to feed an unusual pet in an appropriate way – from a special charging station that connects to a power outlet. One MarsCat battery charge lasts for two hours with vigorous play and for five hours if the robot is not active, but simply sits or lies.

There is no need to be distracted by “feeding” the electric pet: with a charge level of 10%, the “Marscat” itself finds its charging station and connects to it. It is worth noting that in order for MarsCat to successfully detect its charger, you need to follow some simple rules.

  • The station must be in the field of view of the robot (which covers an area of ​​​​three by three meters).
  • Also, an empty space should be left around the charging station: 50 centimeters in front and behind and 15 centimeters on the sides.

The charging station itself is connected to the mains in a regular outlet, the process of fully charging MarsCat takes three hours.

Robot cat device

Inside the bionic MarsCat is an incredibly complex mechanism

Behind an almost living being lies an unusually complex mechanism. At the heart of the “mind” of the robocat is a powerful single-board computer “Raspberry PI 3”.

The body design, which includes 16 actuators (two for the head, two for the tail and three for each leg), allows the Marscat not only to walk and run, but also to take different poses and move in response to external stimuli. Most of the cat’s body is made of plastic, ears, neck and paw pads are made of rubber.

In addition to the already mentioned sensors (the robot has six of them), the bionic cat is equipped with mechanical analogues of the eyes, ears and vocal cords:

  • microphone,
  • speaker
  • and a five-megapixel camera (ironically built into a cat’s nose).

The eyes are small OLED displays (made on the basis of organic light emitting diodes). To make the movement of the robotic pet more natural, a gyroscope (a special device for maintaining balance) was introduced into it, as well as a distance sensor.

It is similar to the decision-making process of a living being, in which, in response to various external stimuli, the central nervous system of the body reacts to them with signals to perform certain actions. The bionic cat also has its own behavioral algorithm, somewhat similar to the biological one. First, a signal about external influence (picture, distance, sound) enters the system through sensors. Further, the received information is processed, and from the “raw” data in the “brain” of the robot, specific concepts and objects are distinguished: for example, objects and human faces are isolated from the received picture. After analyzing the situation, the robot generates a specific behavior model depending on the remaining battery charge, its previous actions and other information. Finally, depending on the chosen behavior, the mechanical pet selects an appropriate action for the situation (mewing, body movement, changing the picture of the eyes) and performs it. In a word, everything is almost like a real animal – but what is there, almost like people!

As for the dimensions of MarsCat, they are actually identical to the parameters of a real animal: 37.2x20x32.9 centimeters in a standing position. The mass of the robotic cat is 2.5 kilograms.

Because of the extreme independence of the invention, you should not worry about the “robot rebellion”. Turning MarsCat on and off is done by pressing an ordinary button on the robot on its stomach. In case of problems or questions, Elephant Robotics representatives offer to contact them directly to the company via the e-mail specified in the user manual, posted in the public domain on the company’s website.

Motion sensors even allow the robo-cat to play with the usual cat “teasers”

Included with the “Marsocat” are three special toys, to which she is trained to respond (this is helped by the program for recognizing moving objects). It is also possible, if desired, to purchase a large assortment of clothes for the robot.

Precautions in using the biorobot

There are some precautions when using a bionic pet, however, they are quite standard for working with electronics. For example,

  • do not allow the robot to get into the rain and in places of high humidity (for example, in a sauna),
  • overheat it (including leaving the MarsCat in a hot car and exposing it to temperatures above 60°C),
  • disassemble the robot
  • drop it from a great height.

To avoid injuries and breakages, it is not recommended to touch the bending joints of the robot with your fingers, grab the robotic cat by the head, paws or tail and attach something to its moving parts that can interfere with movement (for example, stickers or ribbons). It is also not recommended to play with a pet on a hard and slippery surface: a wooden floor or a carpet with a short pile is preferable (otherwise the robot may slip or not be able to sit down).

Get out your wallets

The price of an unusual pet has already been announced: $ 1,299. The impatient can place an order and take out their wallets!…

Everyone loves cats, there is no doubt about that. And it’s great that modern technologies allow everyone, if they wish, to have a curious mustachioed and striped pet, even if they suffer from allergies or every second they have to take off and save the world.

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