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|Inventor||SONY's Digital Creatures Lab and Toshitada Doi|
|Year of creation||1999|
AIBO (stylized 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. Sony announced a prototype Aibo in mid-1998. The first consumer model was introduced on 11 May 1999. New models were released every year until 2006. Although most models were dog-like, other inspirations included lion-cubs and space explorer, and only the ERS-7 version and ERS-1000 versions was explicitly a "robotic dog".
On 26 January 2006 Sony announced that it would discontinue AIBO and several other products in an effort to make the company more profitable. Sony's AIBO customer support was withdrawn gradually, with support for the final ERS-7M3 ending in March 2013.
In July 2014, Sony stopped providing repairs for AIBO products and did not provide customer support or repair for AIBO robots.
In November 2017, Sony announced a new generation of AIBO after 11 years. The fourth generation model, ERS-1000, was launched in Japan on 11 January 2018. The second lottery sale was set on 6 February 2018.
AIBO grew out of Sony's Computer Science Laboratory (CSL). Founded in 1990, CSL was set up to emulate the 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 some AIBO models used. 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.
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".
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.
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. The AIBO responded to over 100 voice commands and talked in a tonal language. Two of the first generation AIBOs exported into the USA came to New York, NY and one remains in the archives and display at Artspace Company Y LLC.
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".
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.
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.
Several prototypes have been displayed by Sony. Early models were insect-like with six legs. The specifications and design 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 (11x)
The first commercially available AIBO. It has a beagle-like appearance. Sales began on 1 June 1999. There was a limited production of 3,000 for Japan and 2,000 for the USA. They are often considered the rarest model. They were available to buy via the internet and sold out in 20 minutes after launch. It was silver with a golden-brown hue and grey claws. ERS-110 cost 250,000 yen, or US$2,500, which would convert to over $3,500 as of 2020.
The ERS-111 was an improved version of the original AIBO, initially released in November 1999. 40,000 units in total. Same price as ERS-110. It looks similar to ERS-110, but with different ear/tail shapes and different capabilities. It was available in a shiny silver with black claws or a metallic black color.
Second generation models (2x0)
The ERS-210 was designed to look like a lion cub, with a flat bull terrier face. It has speech recognition capabilities. The colours were black, silver, gold, red, blue, green, white. It is the most common and most popular AIBO model, and sold over 65,000 units. It cost around $1,500 at launch and eventually went down to less than $1,000.
Silver. Headlights and LED near future-oriented design based on the concept of space exploration robot by Shoji Kawamori. It is nearly identical to the ERS-210 besides in outer shell. It sold around 5,000 to 7,000 units. 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 (default) continuous operation time, 2.5 hours or more operation with a re-celled battery. 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 and head clutch. Displays affixed logo sticker "Super Core" at the bottom of the body. US$1299 at launch.
Third Generation Models (31x)
ERS-31x (Latte and Macaron)
The ERS-31x models had an "AIBO's heart" slogan. Original production design illustrator was Katsura Moshino. The price was 98,000 YEN, OR US$950. The "Latte" (ERS-311) is an off-white/cream color and is considered the "friendly" model. The "Macaron" (ERS-312) is mostly black with cream accents and is considered the "naughty" model. The "Pug" (ERS-31L) is the least common of the three and was $200 cheaper. The 31x series dogs are considered to look like a Bichon puppy or a bear cub.
These models are aesthetically identical to their 31x predecessors but have an added Bluetooth capability chip installed to enable communication with the "Handy viewer." The Handy Viewer was an exclusive Japanese device that would translate aibos thoughts and feelings into text, and enable the handler to play games with them. While the ERS-311 and ERS-312 received these new releases, the ERS-31L never received the Bluetooth update to their hardware.
Fourth generation models (7Mx)
Estimated sales for all fourth generation models: 40,000 to 50,000
This AIBO is regarded as the culmination of the series. The first to be explicitly a "robot dog". Available in white. Packaged with MIND. US$1,599 at launch. This was the first model that talked in all of its versions, not just with special software. The ERS-7 and its' variations sold around 25,000 units.
A variant of the ERS-7, packaged with MIND2. Available in black or white.
ERS-7 Mind 3
A variant of the ERS-7M2, packaged with MIND3. Changed Wi-Fi. White, black, and champagne gold (called honey brown in Japan). The 7m3 version is different from the other ers 7s because they can speak both English and Japanese. You can still raise them from birth like always, but its personality is slightly modified by every single interaction it has with you and its environment. Many people think that it is the final model of aibo, but the ers-1000 is now alive.
Fifth generation models
The first model to be released since the AIBO project was discontinued in 2006. 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. This model of aibo has a much cuter appearance than most of the other models. The ERS-1000 can recognize up to 100 faces, and can memorize a customize-able trick, and responds to over 50 voice commands. It costs around $3,000.
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.
|MUTANT Prototype||1998 Prototype||ERS-110||ERS-7||ERS-1000|
|Processor||IDT R3052 or R3071 ×2 @ 30 MHz||MIPS 64 Bit RISC Processor||64-bit RISC processor @ 50 MHz||MIPS R7000 @ 576 MHz||64-bit Quad-Core processor|
|Moving Parts||16 degrees of freedom||4 legs with 3 degrees-of-freedom, 1 Head with 3 degrees-of-freedom, 1 Tail with 1 degree-of-freedom||Mouth: 1 degree-of-freedom, Head: 3 degrees-of-freedom, Legs: 3 degrees-of-freedom (x 4), Tail: 2 degrees-of-freedom||Mouth - 1 degree of freedom, Head - 3 degrees of freedom, Leg - 3 degrees of freedom x 4 legs, Ear - 1 degree of freedom x 2, Tail - 2 degrees of freedom||Head: 3-axes, Mouth: 1-axis, Neck: 1-axis, Waist: 1-axis,
Legs: 3-axes x 4,
Ear: 1-axis x 2,
|Touch Sensors||One on head, one on each paw||One on head, one on each paw||Electric Static Sensor (head, back)
Pressure Sensor (chin, paws (4))
|Camera||362 × 492 CCD camera||180,000 pixels||180,000 pixel color CCD camera (x 1)||CMOS Image Sensor 350,000 pixels||Front camera, SLAM camera|
|Wireless LAN||IEEE 802.11b (Integrated)||IEEE 802.11b/g/n (Integrated)|
|Mobile Connectivity||No||No||No||No||4G LTE|
|Range Finders||Infra-red||One on head, one on body|
|Display||LED Lamps for expressing happiness (green) and anger (red)||Illume Face capable of over 60 emotional and status modes, consisting of 24 LEDs (white 12, red 4, blue 4, green 4), Ear : 2 (left & right), Head sensor : 2 (white and amber), Head (wireless LAN on/off) : 1(blue), Back sensor : 16 (white 8, red 3, blue 3, orange 2)||2 x OLED Eye Displays|
|Microphone||Stereo microphone||Stereo microphone||Stereo microphone (one on each side)||Stereo microphone (one on each side)||4 Microphones|
|Speaker||Yes||Yes||Yes||Miniature Speaker, 20.8mm、500 mW||Yes|
|Angular Velocity Sensor||Yes||Yes|
|Power Source||Li-ion (7.2V) for electric circuits Ni-Cd (4.8) for motor drivers||One 7.2V Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery, One 4.8V Rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium Battery||DC7.2V (Lithium Ion Battery [ERA-110B])||4 cell Lithium Ion Battery ERA-1???|
|Energy Consumption||12.6W (autonomous mode)||Approx. 7W (Standard operation in autonomous mode)||Approx. 14W|
|Operating Time||Approx. 1.5 hours (using fully charged battery with default capacity) 2.5 hours or more with a re-celled battery||Approx. 1.5 Hours (Standard operation default capacity in autonomous mode) 2.5 hours or more (standard operation higher capacity in autonomous mode)||Approx 2 Hours|
|Charging Time||Approx. 2.5 Hours||Approx. 3 Hours|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||220 × 130 × 200 mm||235 X 132 X 250 mm (not including tail)||Approx. 274 x 156 x 266 mm (not including tail)||319 x 180 x 278 mm||Approx. 180 x 293 x 305 mm (Standing posture not including protrusions)|
|Weight||1.5[Kg] (including batteries)||1.25 kg (including batteries)||About 1.4 kg (Body Only), About 1.6 kg (Including Memory Stick and Battery)||Approx. 1.65 kg (including battery & memory stick)||Approx. 2.2 kg|
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
|DogsLife||An AIBO personality duplicating (and occasionally improving upon) Hello-AIBO.||Second Generation AIBOs|
|Skitter||AIBO "performance" editor, allowing users to create and cause AIBO to perform skits via a PC connected the AIBO by WiFi.||All|
|aiboplus||Replacement personality to explore new ways in the artificial intelligence.||ERS-7|
|AiboStella||iOS controller, patterned after AEP, using URBI framework||ERS-7, ERS-210, ERS-220|
|AIBO Control||Android controller, using URBI framework.||ERS-7|
|Other||Free third party software is available from providers such as Robot App Store.||Varies|
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 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
Aibnet offers a development environment for R-Code programming.
Simplified drag-and-drop customizing of behavior is available via the user-created YART ("Yet Another RCode Tool ")
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.
AIBO Control allows Android users to control AIBO ERS-7's running URBI.
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
AIBO's were used extensively in education. For example, Carnegie Mellon offered an AIBO-centred robotics course covering models of perception, cognition, and action for solving problems. Robotbenchmark also features an online simulation challenge based on an Aibo ERS-7 model called "Visual Tracking".
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: initially released in black, gold, and silver; 2001 Following the release of the first three several special edition colors were released including Spring White, Spring Orange, Everest White (Pearlescent with pink and blue undertones), Mazeran Green, and Sapphire Violet
- ERS-210A "Supercore": Once again released in black, gold and silver; 2002 Following initial release several new special edition colors were released including Holiday Red, Holiday White, and lastly the Cyber Blue in 2003
- ERS-220: silver; 2002
Third generation models
- ERS-311 "Latte": cream; 2001
- ERS-312 "Macaron": black; 2001
- ERS-31L "Pug": brown; 2002
- ERS-311B "Latte": cream; 2002
- ERS-312B "Macaron": black; 2002
Fourth 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
Fifth generation models
- ERS-1000: ivory white; January 2018
- ERS-1000: choco edition; January 2019
- ERS-1000: caramel edition; January 2020
The AIBO anime Piroppo (ピロッポ) was based around AIBO ERS-300s, Latte, and Macaroon. The anime triggered sounds and actions from viewer's ERS-300s.
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
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. HAIBO is not a parody of AIBO, which is a robot made for adults and wasn't sold in stores. Instead, this is a parody of the many spin-offs of it, most of which were made for children.
In the film CJ7, the robotic toy CJ1, is probably based on the design of AIBO and its toy knock-offs.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aibo.|
- Sony Japanese Site (English link)
- 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
- Aibo-Repairs.com: worldwide repair service, faq, help
- Aibo-Repairs: Facebook page for repair info and help
- List of AIBO Dogs
- UCHILSIM, A physics-based simulator of AIBOs competing in RoboCup.
- Piroppo (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia