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Thursday, March 15, 2001

AI :: Tomy develops new robot that can hold conversation
Tomy develops new robot that can hold conversation

Toymaker Tomy Co. said Wednesday it has developed a robot with artificial intelligence that is capable of recognizing words in a conversational context.

Tomy will put the robot, known as memoni, on sale for 18,000 yen in the summer after displaying it at a toy fair to be held in Tokyo later this month.

When it hears a sentence, the robot can pick up two words and respond accordingly, Tomy said.
If, for example, a woman says, "I'll go out on a date with him tomorrow," the robot is capable of recognizing the words "him" and "date" and confirm the man's name or respond with a question such as, "Where will you go?"


Tuesday, March 13, 2001 | GizmoLand! | Miracle Of Life | 5/1/2000 - 5/8/2000 Miracle Of Life

A Japanese research team gives TIME an exclusive inside look at the birth of "Pino,"a robot child


For six months, the researchers on scientist Hiroaki Kitano's robotics team in Tokyo had been trying to create a baby robot. On April 18 they finally succeeded, and they gave TIME exclusive access to both the gestation and the "birth."After putting 35 exterior polyurethane panels-painted snow white and apple green-around the approximately 150 mechanical pieces that make the robot run, they stood back and admired their handiwork: a 75 cm tall, 8 kg bundle of joy that could already walk-gingerly-and kick a soccer ball.

Kitano's baby has 29 motors that power one body movement each - a bending elbow, for example, or a flexing knee. Later the robot will be able to respond to voice commands, recognize faces and, the ultimate goal, play soccer. Its name? "Pino" - short for Pinocchio, the wooden doll who wanted to be a boy.

BusinessWeek Online | Robots | Photo Essay
On the Beam

Many of Mark Tilden's buglike robots (bottom) lack microprocessor "brains"- but can do tasks such as dusting or clipping the grass.

BusinessWeek Online | Robots | Photo Essay

Kitano's Pino has neural-network circuits that will one day mimic the human brain.

BusinessWeek Online | Robots | Photo Essay See a promotional video of the Sony Dream Robots in action.

Robotics: Robots said more useful than pets

Japan Times Mar 12 2001 3:31PM ET

Kyodo News

Electronic robots are gradually becoming familiar companions among some Japanese families and hospital patients, offering them entertainment and peace of mind.

AIBO offers its appendage to an unidentified women at a Tokyo department store.

The robots vary from those that look like puppies to humanoid ones that can walk leisurely on two legs, pour wine into a glass or even express emotions.

While not all of them have made inroads into Japanese households, Atsuo Takanishi, a professor at Waseda University's faculty of science and technology, reckons that in the future, robots will emerge that are more useful than pets.

Robots are gaining popularity probably because they can be kept in apartments and condominiums that are off-limits to pets. They also do not require any exercise or food.

Sony Corp.'s line of AIBO pet robots -- modeled on dogs and lion cubs and equipped with built-in electronic functions to mimic sorrow, anger, surprise, fear and hatred -- have been getting favorable reactions from their owners.

BW Online | March 19, 2001 | Robots Robots
They're beginning to walk, talk, and, yes, think like people. Is the age of the robo sapien just around the corner?

It's 1996. Japan's economy is lurching toward recession. Instead of investing in a new generation of expensive industrial robots, Japan is shipping more production offshore to Southeast Asia and other cheap-labor locales. It's a tough time for Tatsuzo Ishida, Sony Corp.'s (SNE ) ace robotics engineer. He has spent the past 15 years developing steel-collar workers to assemble millions of Walkmen, handycams, and game consoles in Sony's Japanese factories. With Sony joining the exodus, the future of factory robots looks dim.

Being a robot maniac, Ishida refuses to throw in the towel. Instead, he hatches an outrageous plan. Together with comrade-in-arms Yoshihiro Kuroki, he proposes that Sony engineer a whole new species of humanoid entertainment bots, along the lines of C-3PO, the golden chatterbox in Star Wars. The technical challenges are tremendous. Nobody has yet built a biped that can stroll blithely through a house, maneuvering around furniture and dodging people--unaided by a human controller. And if the robotmeisters actually achieve their goal, Sony could face major liability risks. How long before one of the creatures trips and topples onto a toddler, or wanders into the path of a car on its way to the supermarket?

Monday, March 12, 2001

SONY :: AIBO :: On -- Reviews : Look Out for the Trojan Dog
Retooled version of the famous metallic mutt is sturdier, cheaper and packed with more features than its predecessor. Future add-ons will make it more than a toy.
By Chris Taylor
[...] the Sony strategy of convergence: seed the device using its attractiveness as a plaything, then build on its central place in home life. Sound familiar? "It's like PlayStation 2 with four legs and a voice," says Takeshi Yazawa, vice president of Sony's Entertainment Robots division. "This is very much the beginning of robots in the home. The hardware is there; future applications are to come."
In other words, make way for the Trojan dog. Remove AIBO's limbs and head (and starting later this year, you will indeed be able to customize them — wheels for legs, a head with a better camera) and what you're effectively left with is a computer. His torso already has a powerful CPU and a slot for memory sticks. What's mostly needed for the all-singing, all-dancing future of AIBO to kick in is more storage. Right now, for instance, he would only have enough memory to store seven digital photos. But anyone who has ever bought a PC knows how fast that changes. Think Moore's Law. [...]