|Inventor||SONY's Digital Creatures Lab (空山基 ソニーデジタルデザイン), led by Toshitada Doi|
|Year of creation||1999|
|Purpose||Robot for entertainment|
AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Robot, homonymous with aibō (相棒), "pal" or "partner" in Japanese) is an iconic series of robotic pets designed and manufactured by Sony. Sony announced a prototype robot in mid-1998. The first consumer model was introduced on May 11, 1999. New models were released every year until 2005. Although most models were dog-like, other inspirations included lion-cubs and space explorer, and only the final ERS-7 version was explicitly a "robot dog".
AIBOs were marketed for domestic use as "Entertainment Robots". They were also widely adopted by universities for educational purposes (e.g. Robocup) and research into robotics and human-robot interaction.
On January 26, 2006 Sony announced that it would discontinue AIBO and several other products in an effort to make the company profitable. It also stopped development of the related QRIO robot. Sony's AIBO customer support was withdrawn gradually, with support for the final ERS-7M3 ending in March 2013. Some third party support is available, such as repairs and battery refurbishment.
In 2006, AIBO was added into the Carnegie Mellon University Robot Hall of Fame with the description "the Sony AIBO represents the most sophisticated product ever offered in the consumer robot marketplace."
Although repair services are no longer provided by Sony, there are AIBO communities that meet to help with repairs. These meetup groups can be found online and are held by owners and fans of the product.
AIBO grew out of Sony's Computer Science Laboratory (CSL). Founded in 1990, CSL was set up to emulate the famed innovation center at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). CSL's first product was the Aperios operating system, later to form the base software AIBO's. When Nobuyuki Idei became president of Sony in 1995, he sought to adopt a digital agenda, reflected in the new motto he gave the company, “Digital Dream Kids,” and the prominence he gave to CSL.
Famed engineer Dr. Toshitada Doi is credited as AIBO’s original progenitor: in 1994 he had started work on robots with artificial intelligence expert Masahiro Fujita within CSL. Fujita would write that the robot's behaviors will need to “be sufficiently complex or unexpected so that people keep an interest in watching or taking care of it”. Fujita argued that entertainment robots might be viable as "A robot for entertainment can be effectively designed using various state-of-the-art technologies, such as speech recognition and vision, even though these technologies may not be mature enough for applications where they perform a critical function. While there exists special and difficult requirements in entertainment applications themselves, limited capabilities in the speech and vision systems may turn out to be an interesting and attractive feature for appropriately designed entertainment robots." His early monkey-like prototype "MUTANT" included behaviors that would become part of AIBOs including tracking a yellow ball, shaking hands, karate strikes and sleeping. Fujita would later receive the IEEE Inaba Technical Award for Innovation Leading to Production for "AIBO, the world's first mass-market consumer robot for entertainment applications".
In 1997 Doi received backing from Idei to form Sony’s Digital Creatures Lab. Believing that robots would be commonplace in households by 2010, but aware of the shortcomings of available technology for functional uses, he decided to focus on robots for entertainment.
Almost ten years later, Idei's successor, Howard Stringer closed down AIBO and other robotic projects. Doi then staged a mock funeral, attended by more than 100 colleagues from Sony. At the funeral, Doi said that the Aibo was a symbol of a risk-taking spirit at Sony that was now dead.
A friend of Doi's, the artist Hajime Sorayama, was enlisted to create the initial designs for the AIBO's body. Those designs are now part of the permanent collections of Museum of Modern Art and the Smithsonian Institution. The first generation AIBO design won Japan's prestigious "Good Design Award, Grand Prize" and a special Intelligent Design award in the 2000 German Red Dot awards.
The AIBO responded to over 100 voice commands and talked in a tonal language.
Later models of AIBOs were designed jointly with prestigious Japanese designers, and continued to gain design awards. The ERS-210 design was inspired by lion cubs. The bodies of the "ERS-3x" series (Latte and Macaron, the round-headed AIBOs released in 2001) were designed by visual artist Katsura Moshino winning the "Good Design Award" The sleek and futuristic, space-exploration inspired body of the "ERS-220" was designed by Shoji Kawamori. winning the "Good Design Award" and a "Design for Asia" award. The ERS-7 Also won a "Good Design Award".
Several prototypes have been displayed by Sony. Early models were insect-like with six legs. MUTANT is described in "development of an Autonomous Quadruped Robot". The specifications of the 1998 prototype, described in a Sony Press release, closely match those of the first generation AIBOs. Differences include the use of PC-Cards for memory (rather than MemoryStick media), the use of two batteries, and the option to use a 2-wheeled "rolling module" in place of legs.
First generation models
Estimated sales for all first generation models: 65,000
The first commercial AIBO. With a beagle-like appearance. silver; began sales 1 June 1999 for delivery in August; limited production of 3,000 for Japan and 2,000 for the USA. Available on the internet and sold out in just 20 minutes after launch. Good Design Award Grand Prize. Price 250 000 yen (excluding tax).
Improved version of the original AIBO, initially released in November 1999 as a limited edition model.
Second generation models
Estimated sales for all second generation models: 60,000
Lion-cub styling. Original design illustrator up from ERS-110 ERS-210 based on the deserted due to. Speech recognition capabilities. black, silver, gold, red, blue, green, white (3 hues), champagne, etc.; 2001 (Ears not included) 28.1 cm height, 1.5 kg weight, 1.5 hours continuous operation time, 20 degrees of freedom (drive unit), price 150 000 yen (excluding tax). Option of IEEE802.11b wireless LAN remote control is possible by a built-in card is used, which is one of the AIBO-ware "AIBO Navigator 2". You can also add a self-charging function to walk on their own charger when charging is about to expire due to "AIBO Polytechnic us" software option. This feature is Hitoshi Matsumoto by ideas.
ERS-300 (Latte and Macaron)
"AIBO's heart" slogan. Kumainu motif. Original production design illustrator Katsura Moshino . By putting the software called AIBO-ware, AIBO become a different character as "macaroons" naughty "and latte type of" unfussy. Height 28 cm, 1.5 kg weight, 2.5 hours continuous operation, 15 degrees of freedom (drive unit), price 98 000 yen (excluding tax).
Cream; 2001. Low-end model of the ERS-300. Pug-like appearance.
ERS-311B/312B, ERS-311B / X
Bluetooth communication enabled. Can communicate with "AIBO Handy Viewer".
Silver. Headlights and LED near future-oriented design with. Design based on the concept of space exploration robot by Shoji Kawamori. Remote operation is possible by using the optional Wireless LAN card as well as the ERS-210 "AIBO Navigator 2". Height 29.6 cm, 1.5 kg weight, 1.5 hours continuous operation time, 16 degrees of freedom (drive unit), price 180 000 yen (excluding tax)
Variants of ERS-210/220. Difficult to distinguish the appearance but with improved CPU. Displays affixed logo sticker "Super Core" at the bottom of the body. US$1299 at launch.
Third Generation models
Estimated sales for all third generation models: 40,000 to 50,000
A variant of the ERS-7, packaged with MIND2. Available in black or white.
A variant of the ERS-7M2, packaged with MIND3. Changed Wi-Fi. White, black, and champagne gold (called honey brown in Japan). The final model.
The humanoid QRIO robot was designed as the successor to AIBO, and runs the same base R-CODE and Aperios operating system.
The initial ERS-110 AIBO's hardware includes a 64-bit RISC processor, 16 megabytes of RAM, sensors (touch, camera, range-finder, microphone, acceleration, angular velocity), a speaker and actuators (legs, neck, mouth, tail). As the series developed, more sensors and actuators were added. Wi-Fi was available as an add on for some second-generation AIBOs. The third and final family of AIBOs, the ERS-7s, have multiple head and body sensors, clicking ear actuators, a chest-mounted proximity sensor, expressive "Illume-Face" and Wi-Fi.
All AIBOs were bundled with accessories including a charging station and pink ball toy. Late model ERS7's were bundled with a pink AIBone bone-shaped toy, playing cards and a charging station with pole and marker mat for autonomous docking.
All AIBOs are bundled with AIBOLife software giving the robot a personality, the ability to walk, "see" its environment via camera and recognize spoken commands (English and Spanish, or Japanese). AIBO's sounds were programmed by Japanese DJ/avant-garde composer Nobukazu Takemura, fusing mechanic and organic concepts. The sounds in ERS-7 Mind and custom data were composed by Masaya Matsuura, a Japanese musician and game designer.
Aperios and Open-R
Aperios is Sony's Proprietary Real-Time Operating system, used in all AIBOs, QRIO and some other consumer devices. Aperios OS was intended to be widely deployed using revolutionary real-time capabilities to handle multiple audio and visual data streams concurrently The operating system was not widely adopted, and by 2003 Sony had stopped active development with COO Kunitake Ando commenting "Aperios was an operating system of a pre-Internet age and we decided that it isn't adequate for the future".
The OPEN-R architecture is specific to entertainment robots. The architecture involves the use of modular hardware components, such as appendages that can be easily removed and replaced to change the shape and function of the robots, and modular software components that can be interchanged to change their behavior and movement patterns. AIBO's creator, Doi, called OPEN-R the masterpiece of the AIBO development project, arguing it would minimize the need for programming individual movements or responses, and its "open" nature would encourage a global community of robot specialists and programmers to add capability.
First and second generation models of AIBO can load different software packages sold by Sony. AIBOware (a trademark of Sony corporation) is the title given to the software the AIBO runs on its pink Memory Stick. The Life AIBOware allows the robot to be raised from pup to fully grown adult while going through various stages of development as its owner interacts with it. The Explorer AIBOware allows the owner to interact with a fully mature robot able to understand (though not necessarily willing to obey) 100 voice commands. Without AIBOware, AIBOs run in "clinic mode" and can only perform basic actions.
Third generation ERS-7 models have a sole "Mind" software that includes capabilities of AIBOLife and other AIBOware packages. Mind software also includes a docking process, allowing ERS-7's to recharge autonomously. Upgrades in Mind2 included the AIBO Entertainment Player, a Wi-Fi based connection to a PC. Upgrades in Mind3 included speech, blogging and autonomous room mapping.
Notable AIBOware Software
|AIBO Custom Manager||Allows users to load Mind with different sounds, dance routines and voices.||ERS-7 Third Generation AIBOs|
|AIBO Entertainment Player||Allows remote monitoring or control of AIBO Mind by a PC connected by WiFi.||ERS-7 Third Generation AIBOs|
Notable Third Party Software
AIBO Software Development Environment
Initially, access to programming capabilities was limited to Sony and organizations participating in Robocup. By reverse-engineering AIBO, users developed their own software that operated together with AIBOware such as "DiscoAibo" which made the robotic canine dance to music.
In a significant copyright milestone, Sony invoked the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in October 2001, and sent a cease-and-desist notice demanding that "Aibopet" stop distributing code that was retrieved by bypassing the copy protection mechanisms. In the face of complaints by many outraged AIBO owners, Sony backed down and subsequently released a programmer's kit for "non-commercial" use.
The kit has was eventually expanded into three distinct tools: R-CODE, the OPEN-R SDK and the AIBO Remote Framework (ERS-7 only). These three tools are combined under the name AIBO Software Development Environment. All of these tools were free to download and could be used for commercial or non-commercial use (Except for the OPEN-R SDK, which is specifically for non-commercial use).
The OPEN-R SDK is a C++ based programming SDK, based on open-source tools (like gcc and newlib), that allows you to make software that executes on your AIBO. This SDK is considered low-level and allows you to control everything from the gain values of AIBO's actuators to retrieving AIBO's camera data and doing computer vision computations. No pre-built "standard" AIBO functionality is provided, such as it is with R-Code and AIBO Remote Framework. It is an excellent choice for researchers doing low-level robotic research.
R-CODE and R-CODE plus
R-Code is a high-level scripting language for AIBO. R-Code allows you to very easily create simple programs for AIBO to execute. While it does not allow the low-level control that the OPEN-R SDK has, what it lacks in power it makes up for in simplicity. Remoting is possible via a simple terminal socket connection via WiFi. Commercial usage is allowed, and the license fee is free.
R-CodePlus is a derivative of R-Code by AiboPet with several added functionalities. R-CodePlus is a superset of R-Code in terms of language, so everything written in standard R-Code will work on a R-CodePlus memorystick (for the same Model AIBO). R-CodePlus exposes some new "basic" AIBO functions such as simple face recognition, name registration, and camera adjustment settings. In addition to the standard R-Code terminal socket for remoting, R-CodePlus supplies a "Telemety" socket for several binary data transfers such as AIBO's camera image and sending/receiving sound. R-CODE has been extended to R-CODE plus by Aibopet
AIBO Remote Framework
Remotely access capabilities of AIBO MIND including behaviors and pattern recognition from a Windows PC. Same functionality used in the Aibo Entertainment Player. The AIBO Remote Framework is a Windows PC API based on Visual C++. The Framework can be used to write code that can remotely control an AIBO running MIND2 or MIND3 Aiboware via a wireless LAN. Commercial usage is allowed, and the license fee is free.
Other Development Environments
AiBO+ is a replacement personality for Sony ERS-7. The project provides an AEP-like application (AiBO+ Client) to connect to the robot under Ubuntu Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, iOS and Android. The owner can control the dog, play a game and see the robot state.
The Open-R and GCC based toolchain has been updated by the community to use GCC 5.4, Binutils 2.24 and Newlib 1.15. This improvement brings the latest C++11/C++14 features and modern software to program the robot. The packaged version of the old and updated AIBO toolchain is available for Ubuntu in a PPA.
AIBOs in Education and Academia
RoboCup Four-Legged League
The AIBO has seen much use as an inexpensive platform for artificial intelligence education and research, because it integrates a computer, vision system, and articulators in a package vastly cheaper than conventional research robots. One focal point for that development has been the Robocup Leagues.
The Four-Legged League was the initial name for the RoboCup Standard Platform League, a robot soccer league in which all teams compete with identical robots. The robots operate fully autonomously, with no external control by humans nor computers. The specific AIBO version changed over time: ERS-110s (1999,2000), ERS-210 (2001-2002), ERS-210A SuperCore (2003), ERS-7 (2004-2008). The replacement and current standard platform is the humanoid NAO by Aldebaran Robotics.
Sony provided AIBOs, support and sponsorship to universities around the world to participate in the RoboCup autonomous soccer competition Four-Legged Robot Soccer League. Competing teams would program a team of AIBO robots to play games of autonomous robot soccer against other competing teams. The Four-Legged League ran from 1999 to 2008, although in the final year, many big-name universities did not compete as they had moved to the new NAO platform. The University of New South Wales was the most successful team in the League, making the final six times and winning three times.
International AIBO Convention
The International AIBO Convention takes place every year at Sony Robotics Tower in the Shinjuku prefecture. The first convention took place in 1999, on May 15. It was then set to May 2 to May 4. The 2009 convention, being in its tenth year, set attendance records. The convention usually features AIBO advertisements, free posters, free accessories, freeware/open-source downloads and "AIBO Shows".
After model name: body color choices; release date; units sold.
First generation models
- ERS-110: silver; began sales 1 June 1999 for delivery in August; limited production of 3,000 for Japan and 2,000 for the USA
- ERS-111: silver and black; November 1999
Estimated sales for all first generation models: 65,000
Second generation models
- ERS-210: black, silver, gold, red, blue, green, white (3 hues), champagne, etc.; 2001, also named as "chihuahua"
- ERS-311 "Latte": cream; 2001
- ERS-312 "Macaron": black; 2001
- ERS-210A: several colors; 2002
- ERS-220: silver; 2002 (also available as a conversion kit for the ERS-210)
- ERS-31L "Pug": brown; 2002
- ERS-311B "Latte": cream; 2002
- ERS-312B "Macaron": black; 2002
- ERS-210A: cyber blue; 2003
Estimated sales for all second generation models: 60,000
Third Generation models
- ERS-7: white; November 2003
- ERS-7M2: white and black; November 2004
- ERS-7M3: white, black, and champagne gold (called honey brown in Japan); October 2005
Estimated sales for all third generation models: 40,000 to 50,000
The 23-episode series was broadcast on Fuji TV on Thursdays from 22:54 to 23:00 from October 11, 2001, to March 21, 2002.
In popular culture
When AIBO was introduced, The New Yorker published a cartoon by Jack Ziegler showing AIBO "urinating" nuts and bolts on a fire hydrant.
In an episode of Frasier, Frasier gives his dad an AIBO ERS-210 to keep him company while he is visiting Roz in Wisconsin. There is a scene with Eddie interacting with the AIBO, while Martin Crane complains to Sony about not being able to get it to work.
In the South Park episode "Red Sleigh Down", Cartman spends nearly the entire episode trying to get on Santa's nice list, so that he can receive a HAIBO robot doll for Christmas, in reference to the robot dog craze of the early 2000s started by AIBO. At the episode's conclusion, Stan, Kyle, and Cartman all receive their own HAIBO dog.
When asking Siri on an iOS device "Do you have a pet?" and one of the responses is "I used to have an AIBO. But it turned on me."
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aibo.|
- Official Listing at ElectronicPets.org
- Sony Develops OPEN-R Architecture for Entertainment Robots
- Sony Launches Four-Legged Entertainment Robot
- Aiboworld forums, blogs, etc
- AIBO-Life: forums, faq, help
- List of AIBO Dogs
- UCHILSIM, A physics-based simulator of AIBOs competing in RoboCup.
- Piroppo (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia