Sony New York Preview
AIBO Robot Dog
by Rick Smith (May 17, 1999)
Sony AIBO (ERS-110) with ball
This 3.5 pound (1.6 kg) four-legged entertainment robot named AIBO will be available for sale on June 1, 1999 0900 EDT and will available exclusively on the Internet. Shipments will begin in early July. AIBO responds to external stimuli by using its touch sensor (in its head), switches (in its legs), a 180,000 pixel color CCD (in head), dual stereo microphones (in head), dual heat detectors (in torso), infra red range finder (in head), spatial acceleration sensor (in legs) and angular velocity sensors (in legs). Using its 64 bit RISC processor, 16 megabytes of memory and "Aperios" RTOS (Real-time operating system), AIBO simulates emotions such as happiness and anger and instinctively wants companionship. The modularity of the OPEN-R system architecture will allow easy additions or replacements to the existing software.
Since each AIBO is equipped with adaptive learning and growth capabilities, each unit can develop its own personality, shaped by the praise and scolding of its owner. AIBO has game and performance modes that let the owner use a remote control (Sound Commander) to give AIBO tone-based instructions. AIBO is capable of four legged locomotion and can also perform other complex movements using its mouth, tail and head. A prerecorded "Memory Stick" accessory can be used to store new software modules, store the data generated during the learning process and store motion programs created with an optional, PC-based motion editor tool.
Although I saw the unit for only a few minutes, I felt that I had seen the first new product of the 21st century. In a package lighter than most laptops, Sony engineers have combined sophisticated real-time vision, hearing and control electronics into a package that can move under its own power and respond to its environment. We have seen robots in most science fiction stories and movies, but now, with Sony's new AIBO, you can buy your own robot. The future is upon us - are you ready?
(Available on June 1, 1999 0900EDT - Selling Price: $2,500)
© 1999 Rick Smith All rights reserved.