AI News, Sony Halts Support for Aibo, Still One of the Best Robot Toys Ever

Sony Halts Support for Aibo, Still One of the Best Robot Toys Ever

Still, many robot enthusiasts would agree thatthese little robotic pets remainone of the most sophisticated consumer robottoys that you can ever hope to own.In fact, after the first Aibo was released in 1999, Sony worked very hard to improve the robot with each generation.

While consumer robots ultimately weren’t profitable for Sony, the Aibo is now an icon (there’s one at New York’s Museum of Modern Art), and the company did a good job of supporting Aibo owners with accessible software and repairs.

With Sony no longer an option, Aibo owners have to resort to cannibalizing some old Aibos to keep others running, or take their robots to one of a handful of independent shops that are willing to try to make repairs (most in Japan).


AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Robot, homonymous with aibō (相棒), 'pal' or 'partner' in Japanese) is a series of robotic pets designed and manufactured by Sony.

It also stopped development of the related QRIO robot.[5] Sony's AIBO customer support was withdrawn gradually, with support for the final ERS-7M3 ending in March 2013.[6] Some third party support is available, such as repair and battery refurbishment.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.'[7] From July 2014, Sony no longer provide repairs for AIBO products and will not give any kind of customer support or repair for AIBO products.[8] Although repair services are no longer provided by Sony, there are AIBO communities that meet to help with repairs.

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.[12] 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”.[13] 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.'

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'.[14] In 1997 Doi received backing from Idei to form Sony’s Digital Creatures Lab.[15] 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.

Doi then staged a mock funeral, attended by more than 100 colleagues from Sony.[16] At the funeral, Doi said that the Aibo was a symbol of a risk-taking spirit at Sony that was now dead.[17] In November 2017, Sony Corporation announced that AIBO would return with a new model that would be capable of forming an emotional bond with users.[18] A

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).

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.

Requires an always-on internet connection to function fully and comes with an LTE SIM card and monthly subscription service to support interaction and learning in the cloud.[28] 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).[29] As the series developed, more sensors and actuators were added.

Aperios OS was intended to be widely deployed using revolutionary real-time capabilities to handle multiple audio and visual data streams concurrently[34] 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'.[35] 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.[15] First and second generation models of AIBO can load different software packages sold by Sony.

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.[42][43][44] In the face of complaints by many outraged AIBO owners,[45] Sony backed down and subsequently released a programmer's kit for 'non-commercial' use.[46] The kit was eventually expanded into three distinct tools: R-CODE, the OPEN-R SDK and the AIBO Remote Framework (ERS-7 only).

R-CODE has been extended to R-CODE plus by Aibopet[47] Aibnet offers a development environment for R-Code programming.[48] Simplified drag-and-drop customizing of behavior is available via the user-created YART ('Yet Another RCode Tool ')[49] Remotely access capabilities of AIBO MIND including behaviors and pattern recognition from a Windows PC.

For example, Carnegie Mellon offered an AIBO-centred robotics course covering models of perception, cognition, and action for solving problems.[52] 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.

When AIBO was introduced, The New Yorker published a cartoon by Jack Ziegler showing AIBO 'urinating' nuts and bolts on a fire hydrant.[55] The AIBO ERS-210 was used in Janet Jackson's 'Doesn't Really Matter' music video, and received increased market demand and commercial success after being featured with Jackson in the clip.[56] In an episode of Frasier, Frasier gives his dad an AIBO ERS-210 to keep him company while he is visiting Roz in Wisconsin.

Sony is bringing back its pet AI project — a robotic dog

AIBO is billed as a pet that behaves like a real dog using artificial intelligence (AI) to learn and interact with its owner and surroundings.

The upgrade sees AIBO equipped with new sensing and movement technologies as well as far more advanced AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog's personality.

It sold about 150,000 dogs in Japan before ceasing production seven years later when its core consumer electronics business struggled in price wars with emerging Asian rivals.

'I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop (new) AIBO because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realize Sony's mission (to inspire).'

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