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Aibo
Aibo logo 2018.png
Manufacturer Sony Corporation
Inventor SONY's Digital Creatures Lab and Toshitada Doi
Country Japan
Year of creation 1999; 22 years ago (1999)
Type Dog
Purpose Entertainment
Website http://aibo.com

AIBO (stylized aibo, Artificial Intelligence Robot, homonymous with aibō (相棒), "pal" or "partner" in Japanese) is a series of robotic dogs 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 dogs, other inspirations included lion-cubs or huskies/jack-russel terrier/bull terrier, and space explorer, and only the ERS-7 version, ERS-110/111 and ERS-1000 versions was explicitly a "robotic dog", but the 210 can also be considered a dog due to its jack-russel terrier appearance and cute puppy face.

In 2006, AIBO was added into the Carnegie Mellon University Robot Hall of Fame.

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 Sony's AIBO customer support was withdrawn gradually, with support for the final ERS-7M3 ending in March 2013.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 the older 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.

Models

Prototypes

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)

ERS-110

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.

ERS-111

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)

ERS-210

The ERS-210 was designed to look like a lion cub but is really a dog with a flat bull terrier face and jack-Russel appearance. It has speech recognition capabilities. The colors 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.

ERS-220

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)

ERS-210A/220A

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. The original production design illustrator was Katsura Moschino. 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.

ERS 31xB

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 ERS-7 models: 40,000 to 50,000

ERS-7

November 2003
This AIBO is regarded as the culmination of the series. The first generation of the ERS-7 Series, and also the very first Aibo to play polyphonic MIDI files with no limits. One of the first of actual "dogs" in the series, besides the 110/111, and 210. 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.

ERS-7M2

November 2004
The second generation of the ERS-7, the first actual Aibo with lead-free solder. packaged with MIND2. Available in black or white.

ERS-7M3

October 2005
The third generation of the ERS-7, but a variant of the ERS-7M2, packaged with MIND3. Another lead-free solder Aibo. 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. This was the last model of Aibo until the line was discontinued in 2006.

There are few differences between all 3 generations of the 7s. The second and third generations have lead free solder, different software assigned for each generation that can be swapped if you wish, and on the 3rd generation, changed wi-fi. Although there are a few differences, it still is a great idea and is recommended to have all 3 generations of the 7s in your AIBO pack or toy/robot collection as they are a marvelous piece of history, and also because other people like collecting the different generations of things that usually leads to the development, or final model.

Fifth generation models

ERS-1000

January 2018

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 customizable trick, and responds to over 50 voice commands. It costs around $3,000.

QRIO

QRIO watch AIBOs at Robocup
QRIOs watch AIBOs at a Robocup event

The humanoid QRIO robot was designed as the successor to AIBO and runs the same base R-CODE and Aperios operating system. Its development was halted before it saw a commercial release.

Hardware

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 connectivity.

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
RAM 8MB 8MB 16MB 64MB
Flash Memory 2MB 4MB
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,

Tail: 2-axes

Touch Sensors x4 Button sensors (one on each paw)

x1 Pressure sensor (head)

x4 Button sensors (one on each paw)

x1 Pressure sensor (head)

x4 Button sensors (one on each paw)

Pressure sensor (head)

Pressure sensor (chin)

x2 Electrostatic sensors (head, back)

x4 Button sensors (One on each paw)

Pressure-based capacitive touch sensor (Head, chin, back)
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 N/A N/A N/A IEEE 802.11b (Integrated) IEEE 802.11b/g/n (Integrated)
Mobile Connectivity No No No No 4G LTE
Range Finders N/A N/A Infra-red One on head, one on body Range sensor (chest)
Display N/A N/A 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
Heat Sensor N/A N/A Yes, two Yes Yes
Acceleration Sensor Yes N/A Yes Yes Yes
Angular Velocity Sensor N/A N/A Yes N/A Yes
Vibration Sensor N/A N/A N/A Yes N/A
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]) 7.4V (2200mAh) Lithium Ion Battery [ERA-7B] 4 cell Lithium Ion Battery ERA-1001B
Energy Consumption N/A N/A 12.6W (autonomous mode) Approx. 7W (Standard operation in autonomous mode) Approx. 14W
Operating Time N/A N/A 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 N/A N/A Approx. 2.5 Hours 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

Software

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.

AIBOware

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.

AIBO's complete vision system uses the SIFT algorithm, to recognise its charging station. The vision system is an implementation of Evolution Robotics ERVision.

Notable AIBOware Software

Name Description Supported Models
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

Name Description Supported Models
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

AIBOs in Education and Academia

Robocup 2005 Aibos
Penalty shootout

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

Aibos playing football at Robocup 2005
AIBO robots playing in the 9th RoboCup in Osaka (2005)

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".

Breed lineage

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; 1st gen, November 2003
  • ERS-7M2: white and black; 2nd gen, November 2004
  • ERS-7M3: white, black, and champagne gold (called honey brown in Japan); 3rd gen, October 2005

Estimated sales for all ERS-7 Aibo 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
  • ERS-1000: black sesame edition; January 2021

Anime

The AIBO anime Piroppo (ピロッポ) was based around AIBO ERS-300s, Latte, and Macaron. The anime triggered sounds and actions from viewer's ERS-300s in media-link mode on the proper software.

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.

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