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September 13, 2013 05:00 PM

Categories: General Robotics

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Joined: 04/12/2012

I just bought a Zoomer robotic dog out of curiosity and I am quite impressed.  The toy has a really innovative design and it has a very zoomorphic level of interaction. Yes, it is more of a toy than a robot as far as motorized complexity and brain power, but the clever crafting of its drive system coupled with excellent infrared collision avoidance blurs the line a bit.  Zoomer has an engaging personality, if you like frantic small dogs, although I found myself thinking it was more like a rodent or ferret when it really became insane. Voice control is superb, and the robot understands exactly the number of commands any sane person should commit to memory for such a toy. 

Even at this early stage of examination, Zoomer shows hints of developing behavior at a level of complexity I did not expect.  The robot does not always react the same to a command and almost always varies its responses.  At times Zoomer will slow down its rapid wanderings to lay down, fall asleep, or just wag its tail.  One of the most fascinating things to watch is the way the toy's eyes move when dog navigates--that is if you can keep up with it.   Zoomer moves with RC car swiftness at times and can change direction with dizzying forward and backward movements as it uses its binocular infrared vision to negotiated tight spots. The toy’s sensors are very effective at guiding the robot, and reaction is quick enough to actively follow animate objects like receding human heels with relative ease.   I've seen Zoomer navigate a forest of chair and table legs without getting stuck, only to emerge from the forest and do it all over again from a different angle.

I can't help but think that it is a shame this toy was not scaled up a bit and given a few more motors, a bigger battery and a programmable brain.  Zoomer's ability to rapidly traverse terrain gives the toy's interactive behavior a boost, because it is at the level of an animal with a high metabolism.  Zoomer can easily keep up with the walking pace that humans use at home and I think a larger one could match that of a real dog trotting along outside.   The independent four wheel drive system allows for instant acceleration and quick stops, and the articulated "suspension" arms and wasp waist make for tight stunt turns and exceptional traction. The design would make for a cool full size quad ride

 I feel it’s worth what I paid for the little toy, although naturally I would have happily paid less.  It’s not an Aibo knock off, or a new i-Cybie.  It’s not in the league of either of those robots as far as mechanical complexity or programmability.  Zoomer is a new thing; it’s faster and more agile than anything out there and it offers a glimpse into the faster paced interaction possible with future robotic pets. 

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Comments 1-15 of 72 | Latest Comment | 1 2 3 4 5 Next »

September 16, 2013 2:35 AM

any change for a video?

September 16, 2013 10:53 AM

There are many videos currently on the web featuring Zoomer that summarize the robot's behavior pretty well. When I decide to open it up I'll post some pictures then. Right now I'm still studying the exhisting AI and comparing it to other robots of similar complexity--and there are easter eggs buried in there.
The mechanism that drives Zoomers legs is very interesting. The elbows and knees of the toy are not motorized but function using a combination of engine torc, clutching, and spring tension to achieve standing and sitting postures. There are no motors in the shoulders or hips but there is one at the waist. It doesn't seem to be able to sense whether it's wheels are touching the floor but it can detect if it is on its side and which side it is on.

September 17, 2013 1:59 AM


September 22, 2013 12:32 PM


I just bought one this WE for my doughtier and quickly tried it: looks like she (and the whole family) is going to have fun.
i have one technical concern: I tried different ways to charge the battery but failed so far: my iPhone charger does nothing, nor does my desktop computer or a laptop.
What are you charging yours with?

September 22, 2013 3:40 PM

I'm having the same problem with charging. I was able to get it to charge once but never again. I brought it back to the store, exchanged it, tested the new one before leaving and it charged. Got it home, charged it up fully, my son played with it and now it won't charge. I get a slight flicker in the eyes when I turn the switch to on when it's on the charger. It's supposed to light up when charging and the eyes give you a battery level when you press down on his head. Again, he did that once, but now I'm stuck with a dead battery dog again. Was thinking this was a bad batch or something until I read GTJYves post above... any ideas on how to fix this? (I have tried charging on the laptop and wall outlet, wall outlet was what was successful the first time)

September 22, 2013 3:53 PM

Just messed around with it for about 10 minutes straight, flipping it around, patting it's head, turning it off and on, plugging and unplugging it and it FINALLY came on and is charging again. Any thoughts on this would still be appreciated, not sure what I did to get it to come back on, really seems random.

September 22, 2013 4:10 PM

hi.does the manuel says something howlong you must charge? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JocE7lhDPcM

September 22, 2013 4:16 PM

Yes, it is supposed to charge for an hour.

I never got any flicker in the eyes, although I charged it all night long (iPhone charger); the eyes remain switched off when I push on its head.

I'll try to get a 2100 mAh charger tomorrow to verify if it is linked to a high need for current.

September 22, 2013 4:22 PM

Try just plugging it into a plain old desktop USB port with the charger included and see if you get the faint flicker in the eyes. I get it if I plug the charge into the dog then into the computer THEN turn the power switch off and on.If you do then just keep messing with it until it suddenly comes to life... hopefully I can keep getting mine to do it....

September 22, 2013 4:23 PM

auch.not a good idea to charge hole night long.
can you check if the batt is death.
and ask manufacturer whits charger is best.

September 25, 2013 1:59 PM

I tried to charge Zoomer with a more powerful USB charger (10W, 2100mAh) and after 30 min, the eyes were indicating that it was fully charged!

The birthday of my daughter is Friday, so we'll soon find out if it really works fine.

September 25, 2013 2:52 PM

good find.two thumbs up for friday.

September 29, 2013 8:31 PM


Can anyone provide me with zoomers manufacturers contact information email and phone number.

Thanks so much.

September 29, 2013 8:32 PM

Can anyone give me Zoomer Robodog manufacters contact info, email or phone number?

Thanks so much.

September 29, 2013 8:36 PM

GTJYves said: Hi, I just bought one this WE for my doughtier and quickly tried it: looks like she (and the whole family) is going to have fun. i have one technical concern: I tried different ways to charge the battery but failed so far: my iPhone charger does nothing, nor does my desktop computer or a laptop. What are you charging yours with?

Can you provide me with zoomers manufacturers contact info I am having same issue.

Discussion:    Add a Comment | Back to Top | Comments 1-15 of 72 | Latest Comment | 1 2 3 4 5 Next »

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