Posted by: robotnews | March 12, 2006

QRIO, The Sony Dream Robot

U0300657 Yeo Choon Kwang

Sony Corporation has developed a small biped-walking robot, QRIO(SDR-4XII), approximately half the size of a human being. Despite its small size, it packs amazing capability and makes use of cutting-edge technology.

For motion control, QRIO makes use of a newly-developed “Real-time Integrated Adaptive Control System” and real-time gait pattern generation control. These technologies enable a stable smooth gait for autonomous walking, as well as walking on irregular or/and tilted surfaces in real time. Moreover, the robot is able to maintain its posture when subjected to external pressure.

In order for QRIO to execute the necessary motions, there is a need to interact with the environment. To achieve this, it makes use of “Real-world Space Perception Technology”. The hardware includes 2 CCD cameras and 7 microphones embedded in its head. The cameras enable it to gauge the distance between itself and the object and perceive the figuration of the object. Using this information, it plans a path so as to avoid the object. When a sound is detected, the strategically positioned microphones allow it to compute the direction of the source of that sound.

On top of that, QRIO incorporates multi-modal human interaction technology. This includes (1) individual person detection, recognition learning technology, (2) continuous speech recognition and unknown vocabulary acquisition, (3) conversation, performance control technology based on its short-term and long-term memory and (4) speech synthesis and singing voice production.



  1. U025524W Diana Gobeawan

    I am wondering, exactly is this Sony robot’s usage? Is it for entertainment? As for the unknown vocabulary acquisition, how does it work? How will it be able to know the meaning of the new vocabulary? How much memory will it require to be able to conduct a conversation? It is really interesting if there is robot which can communicate with human just like a normal human being, they can be deployed as a good company for the elderly or those who live alone.

  2. Sony stopped the production of both the QRIO and the AIBO

  3. Sony has only officially stopped the production of AIBO but not QRIO..

    I believe the Sony QRIO has been an inspiration to many humanoid enthusiasts. I personally am into humanoid research and have often set the capabilities of the QRIO as a bench mark.

    It takes someone who is into humanoid robotics to really appreciate what the QRIO can do. Our image of robots have often been misguided given how today’s movies portray them.

    The QRIO is perhaps one of the most capable humanoids in the market today. What it can do now, is perhaps what the best humanoids in the world can do at the moment.

    The rumour of halting QRIO production is down to the poor sales of QRIO. It’s very much a sad news because like I said, humanoids are still not as appreciated as they should be.

    Scientific progress nowadays are pretty much driven by economic factors and without these massive MNCs pushing the robotics development, it is always difficult to achieve new standards.

    I would think Sony has made a tremendous effort to develop robotics and take it to a new level and without them, the world would never have seen the QRIO.

    Hence I do believe the QRIO is definitely a development worth mentioning and even remembering even if the production may eventually be stopped because afterall, the QRIO has served well to push humanoid research to the limit.

    Anyway, isn’t it a dream to have a humanoid serving u at home? Perhaps the answer is obvious given the title of this blog. Because humans deserve better.

  4. u0300654 Li Junbin

    I think human perceptions for robots are “rectangular block wrapped in plastics or metals”. However, I once read an article on human look-alike robots. It was publicized in Japan sometime ago in July 2005. They looked so real because the robots are not wrapped in bulky metals or plastics , but in flexible silicone, that looked very much like skin tissues. She can flutter her eyelids and move her hands like a human. She even appears to breathe. So amazing !Her name is Repliee Q1Expo. For more info, refer to

  5. This post has been removed by the author.

  6. U0204550 Wong Liang Mian

    Well, I guess a reason why bipedal robots aren’t all that popular would be that they are not practical. Using wheels would give the robot more mobility as well as stability. After all, we don’t invent cars with four legs.

    The only reason for the development of bipedal robots would be to make robots as human as possible. It is a cultural motive, due to the portayals of robots in books and film.

    I am not saying that there are no specialize uses for bipedal robots, just that wheels or tracks would probably be more practical. Kudos to Sony for the engineering achievement of developing such a robot though.

  7. I beg to differ from you Liang Mian…

    The most important reason for development of bipedal robots is not just to make them as human like as possible…

    What every bipedal researcher will tell you is that the primary reason is the amount of versatility bipeds have in conquering different types of terrain.

    The biggest advantage a biped has over wheeled robots is moving over terrain with steps, pot holes or some other form of obstacles. For example, a biped is able to stretch its legs over a low wall while it would be impossible for a wheeled robot to do so.

    Human settlements have been designed to suit bipedal movement and thus to allow absolute autonomous movement of robots in our city, biped research is of the utmost importance.

    Still, current day research is still far from realising such advanced bipedal movement and hence only with further studies in this area will the such a dream be realized..

  8. My 2 cents worth on Bipedal vs Wheels..

    In addition to the points raised by Loverfools (terrain, human settlements), the simple fact that humans are bipedal convinces me that legs have an edge over wheels because I am a firm believer that nature designed things for a reason.

    As to why cars are invented with wheels.. my take is that wheels are simpler to design and easier to work with. Although wheels are generally faster than legs (cars versus dog); potentially, a set of well-designed and mechanically efficient legs can actually be faster! (think cars versus cheetahs).

    Clearly, bipedal motion technology is not at that stage yet but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying! =)

  9. Cheers my mate, kelvin…

    Liverpool 3 – Newcastle 1…wahahaha…

  10. Cheers loverfools, YNWA. =)

  11. s0500130
    It is a very cool robot, but what it the robots goal? Is the robot usage just commercial for Sony?
    It seems that Sony concentrate much on the outside look instead of just thinking on the robots brain, which is the important thing

  12. U0303893 Aung Myo Lwin QRIO is very interesting, however, too bad that they stop research on this QRIO. When I first saw it, i was amazed by its features and functions. I am most interested in its bipedal walking and body balancing while it is on the skate. I believe, the higher degree of freedom at its hip joints and ankle joints which give better posture control. I also think their real time control system works quite well as they can keep the system under stable condition. I hope they will restart their research on QRIO.

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