AIBO (Artificial Intelligence roBOt)

AIBO (pronounced eye-bow) is an entertainment robot designed by Sony.

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Artificial intelligence
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AIBO (pronounced eye-bow) is an entertainment robot designed by Sony. AIBO means "companion" in Japanese. It is also an abbreviation for "artificial intelligence bot" ("bot" is short for "robot") in English. Sony created AIBO to be a robotic pet and promotes AIBO as having the capability to interact with its human owner in many of the same ways a living pet would - without the high maintenance.

Sony classifies AIBO as an autonomous robot, meaning that it has the ability to learn, mature, and act on its own in response to external stimuli. AIBO has a brain (CPU), the ability to move (20 points of articulation), and sensory organs (sensors). AIBO's developmental stages are controlled by a "memory stick" application software. Human interaction with AIBO determines its ability to express its needs and emotions, as well as its ability to learn and mature. AIBO is capable of expressing happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, fear and dislike. Just like a pet that's alive, the more interaction AIBO has with humans, the faster it learns.

AIBO's head has a touch sensor for non-verbal communication, stereo microphones for hearing, a color video camera for vision, and a distance detector to allow AIBO to avoid obstacles. AIBO has voice recognition components that allow AIBO to be programmed to recognize its own name and understand over 50 verbal commands (depending on where AIBO is in its growth cycle). At present, AIBO is bi-lingual and understands Japanese and English; Sony plans to add German and French to increase the robot's world-wide appeal. AIBO is able to communicate with humans by emitting musical tones and changing the color and shape of its eyes. AIBO can be "taught" to play games, but unlike a game, AIBO cannot be reset.

AIBO uses Sony's OPEN-R platform to operate. OPEN-R is modular, so the robot's hardware and software components can be easily changed. Sony plans to initiate a licensing program that will allow developers to use OPEN-R technology to create new applications for AIBO. They hope that opening up developement will encourage the public's acceptance of personal robots and help create a broad base of consumers interested in purchasing entertainment or household-helper robots. SONY has released two models of AIBO. The first version of AIBO resembled a dog. The second version of AIBO is said to be modeled after a lion cub. The basic AIBO model sells in the United States for $1,500. The deluxe version, which comes with a charging station, carrying bag, extra battery and additional software package sells for $2,800.

This was first published in September 2005

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