Advanced robot dog Bernard from Sunderland University grabs attention on Metro

Bernard the robot dog surprised commuters when he hopped on a train. Credit: University of Sunderland

An advanced robot dog called Bernard surprised commuters when he hopped on a train.

Bernard is one of the most advanced quadrupedal robots in development and was on his way to give a research talk in Newcastle last week.

Bernard, who was built by Boston Dynamics in the USA, joined the University of Sunderland in 2021 to promote technology at its open days and outreach and recruitment events.

Last week, he made his first journey on the Tyne and Wear Metro to get from Sunderland to Newcastle with owner Professor John Murray.

He said: “I think the passengers were surprised to see a robot dog on the Metro and many were keen to have their photo taken with him. During the journey there were many questions about what he’s for and what he can do.”

He added: “Bernard gives his Tyne and Wear Metro experience a 10/10. The staff were all very excited to meet him and get to know more about him. He certainly caused a buzz and enjoyed the attention.”

Professor John Murray and Bernard travelled from Sunderland to Newcastle via the Metro to show off the technology. Credit: Sunderland University

Nexus, Metro’s operator, said he was probably its first ever robot customer on the system.  

Huw Lewis, customer services director at Nexus, said: “It was fantastic to welcome Bernard the robot dog onto the Tyne and Wear Metro. What an amazing piece of technology that the university has there to showcase what can be achieved with modern day robotics.

“Bernard certainly turned a few heads when our customers spotted him heading down into the station and then along the platform to wait for a train. They couldn’t wait to take a few selfies, and they were really in awe of what they were seeing. There was a mixture of delight and surprise. He is welcome on Metro any time because he made a lot of people’s day, whether young or old.”

Mr Lewis added: “The visit showed just how far robot technology has advanced. Bernard even made our trains show their age, and his yellow colour scheme was a nice nod to the modern new fleet of Stadler trains we are bringing into service later this year.”

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