Posted by: robotnews | April 4, 2007

Curious Dogs


The Aibo is a popular robot dog designed to interact with its owner and perform simple tricks. In Sony’s R&D lab, all these new Aibo dogs were given two software control mechanisms. Firstly, a “low-level learning system” that controls simple behavior and also tries to predict how those behaviors will affect the surrounding sensory. Secondly, a “meta-learning system” that analyses the accuracy of predictions made by the low-level system and controls the overall “motivation”.
Interaction between these two components is critical to the reprogrammed Aibos’ uncannily inquisitive nature. The meta-learning system prompts the robot dogs to pursue behaviors that they can rapidly learn to predict, but which also have maximum learning potential. This tends to makes the robot dogs inherently curious, seeking out increasingly complicated scenarios with which to interact. However they will effectively become bored with activities that do not stimulate them to their artificial satisfaction.
In an experiment, these robotic pups are placed in a child’s activity-pen and were left alone for investigation. It was observed that the robots learned progressively; initially just moving their limbs in an uncoordinated manner, followed by exploring their surroundings and biting nearby soft toys. After several hours, these dogs started kicking their toys and even trying to interact with conventional Aibo dogs. Although every subject followed a similar learning pattern, but the results showed that there were variations among the Aibos’ pattern. This research could eventually help robot designers to create machines that are much more flexible and adaptive in unpredictable circumstances.

Tng Thomson U046231A

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Responses

  1. Aibo is definitely one of the most interesting commercial robot in the market. It can play with human like a real dog and can learn new thing by its own. Keeping such electronic pets might be better for some people as they do not need to commit themselves and when they get bored of it, they can just switch it off, instead of dumping them and adding to SPCA workload.

    Teo Hong Wee U036472X

  2. I am wondering if Aibo’s nose is as good as the real dog’s.
    Maybe one day an improved version of Aibo can help the owner to find unseen stuff in hidden corners.

    Xue Chao
    U037176U

  3. It is indeed an interesting invention that allows the robot to learn.
    i just find that it’s costly to build such robots and there isn’t much use to it, other than for entertainment.
    Perhaps, it could be modeled to guide the blind; by fitting sensors to detect road kerbs and assisting the blind to walk along the road.
    Ong Mei Yee U036855H

  4. Aibo can definately be put to more use in the house other than just a play toy. By using a built in video camera and other sensors that can be integrated into its system, Aibo can become a psuedo-fire alarm using its smoke detector. Just one of many extra functions it can Aibo can be used for other than just a companion.

    Boo Junyou
    U036378U

  5. This is interesting but I am just wondering about the last sentence of the post. What kind of unpredictable circumstances the Aibo has to adapt to ?? And while this is all very interesting, I am just wondering what exactly is the potential applications of this research? I know of some games which uses AI to simulate forms of life that are somewhat like the Aibo as in they react differently according to external surroundings and how you “treat” them. However, most robots that are used in areas other than gameplay have fixed motivations such as fire-saving, directing traffic etc. As such, I don’t really see much need for robots to adapt and react to unpredictable events in all these other cases.

    Goh Pei Ming
    U049117N

  6. Robotic dogs must be highly adaptable to survive in the real world.As if a dog just repeats common commands and doesn’t learn new things, the consumer may get bored with it and hence, the demand for it will decrease.In Aibo’s case, the software created in it allows for this adaptability.To learn new tricks and evolve in a robot is a very hard task and I think the designers of Aibo has done an outstanding job at it.

    Prakash S/O Yanaprakasam
    U036229B

  7. Aibo is surely an interesting invention. I had the chance to view a live demonstration on the actual robot and I am amazed by the amount of agility, flexibility and intelligent in-built into robot. It would definitely be a good companion to some and further enhancement can be embedded into Aibo for security and monitoring purposes.

    However, the bad news is that Sony has pulled out from research into robotics, as such there probably won’t a third generation Aibo coming to the market. I guess Aibo is a too expensive for a common man to own. Nevertheless, Aibo is definitely one great invention by Sony.

    Ng Buck Sin U046233B


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