Most of you must have heard about Sony AIBO, but I guess not many know what its features are and the technology used to implement it. So what exactly does AIBO stand for? Basically it just stands for Artificial Intelligence roBOt, or simply “companion” in Japanese. Just like us humans, it goes through life cycle stages of an infant, child, teen and adult. The rate at which it grows up is dependent on the amount of interaction that we have with it. The greater the amount of the interactions, the faster it grows up and the converse is true. Behaviours This new pet has six different emotional states and some instincts that are preprogrammed into its brain. Some of the emotional states include happiness, dislike, anger, love, sadness and surprise and instincts such as fear, search, movement and recharge. The emotions that are exhibited by it have different degrees, for instance, it will express its emotional state through a series of actions such as wagging his tail and changing the colour or shape of its eyes, etc. In addition, it acts to fulfill desires that are created by its instincts. This means that if we, as the pet owners, fulfill what it wants, its joy level will rise. Otherwise, it might get angry or sad over the issue. So does it not behave like a child! On top of these, its personality and growth are greatly influenced by how we react to its emotional expressions. All these emotions and instincts that are expressed by it are dependent on the nervous system that has been planted in it. And when it is “hungry”, it will exhibit certain behaviours so that the owner will know that it is time to recharge the battery. Technology AIBO is powered by battery and it acts like a fully autonomous robot where decisions for its own actions and behaviour are made independently. This is made possible with the nervous system that is made up of integrated circuitry which results in it being a fully cognizant, sensing, loving and communicate companion. There are two types of softwares that are used in the AIBO and these are available separately. The first software, Life AIBOware allows AIBO to be raised from a puppy to a fully grown up adult while it goes through the various development stages based on the interaction that the owner has with it. The second software, Explorer AIBOware is used when the owner wants it to understand the 100 voice commands though it may not necessarily obey the given commands. AIBO is a four-legged robot has 20 motorized joints which allow its movements to be rather realistic. In addition, the 20 degrees of freedom that it possesses allows it to perform trick such as wagging its tail and flapping its ears just like a real dog. It behaves like a real puppy as it initially starts to move wobbly but will learn to balance itself as it grows up.
AIBO has various senses such as touch, hearing and sight. The sense of touch on his head, chin and back allows it to respond accordingly to how the owner treats it such a friendly pat or a disciplining tap. The built-in stereo microphones on its ears which allows it to recognize the owner’s instructions and responds to it since it learns the name the owner gives it. In addition, it will copy the sound of the owner’s words and reply with an electronic tonal language. However, an infant can only recognize only a limited set of vocabulary. But as it matures, it can recognize more words. The camera on its head allows it to recognize its surrounding at all times. It has three sensors – temperature, infrared distance and acceleration – to allow it to adapt to its surroundings at all times. In terms of application domains, making use of the features that the AIBO has, a RoboCup autonomous soccer competition had been held. This involves a team of programmed AIBO robots to play autonomous soccer games against other competitors. In retrospect, it brings much companion for us humans as it acts like a real dog. This AIBO also helps to inculcate the correct values to children that they should not be nasty to animals as it will react accordingly to how we humans treat it. In addition, it also helps one to learn how to take care of a pet so as to prepare them if they want to keep a real one in the future.