Sony Terminates AIBO and QRIO

Posted 26 Jan 2006 at 20:13 UTC by steve Share This

jlin was the first of several readers who spotted the news that Sony pulled the plug on the AIBO dog and QRIO humanoid robots. Sony announced (PDF format, page 6) the termination of the two popular robots as part of their Q3 financial report. Sony will continue R&D in robotics and AI. There are plenty of places to find additional info on this story including Forbes, ZDNet, Physorg, engadget, slashdot, and plenty of others. Does this mean we'll be seeing Sony robots on the surplus market sometime soon?

Was the AIBO really ever that useful?, posted 26 Jan 2006 at 20:57 UTC by Nelson » (Journeyer)

I must confess that to me, although AIBO deserved awards for being cute, like a music box or an elaborate cocoo clock, beyond the initial emotional impact, I wondered if it was really innovative in any useful way, or just a novelty that people might quickly grow tired of.

I tend to agree with Joe Engleberger that the Japanese have been producing far too many toys that are great for PR, but missing the boat on really useful robots (like smart automobiles) that have some commercal utility.

But then again, perhaps I am being too harsh. Alas, poor AIBO, you were only an entertainment robot...

QRIO, posted 27 Jan 2006 at 08:53 UTC by JamesBruton » (Master)

I didn't think QRIO was ever available to buy anyway and was only something they got out at shows... therefore not sure what the impact of this is.

I'm sure that there will be other robot dogs in the future from other manufacturers.

RIP, Aibo, posted 27 Jan 2006 at 16:56 UTC by jeffkoenig » (Master)

I take this as terrible news. Aibo was never in my price range, but I was quite pleased that a company would spend some R&D on a robotic product. I think I still have the brochure from the first model.

Between this and their rootkit music CDs, I really don't see myself buying anything with "Sony" written on it anytime soon.

AI R&D continue, posted 27 Jan 2006 at 19:47 UTC by while_true » (Observer)

Sony says AI research will continue for those platforms, as will support.

I suppose this is better than nothing.

Considering the optimizations that went into the latest Aibo chip for image processing (the Evolution Robotics recognition engine), I will they could pump out a few more generations.

ANd who is gonna star in Beck's videos, if not QRIO?!

Almost Senseless?, posted 30 Jan 2006 at 19:59 UTC by Nelson » (Journeyer)

What bothered me about the AIBO concept was that it was heavy on motion, and light on sensors. It was my impression that, other than it's ability to recognize one or two simple sights and sounds, like a bright red ball, it was essentially blind and deaf.

Most of what people found so cute were the pre-programmed dog-like mannerisms, which only reminded me of the annoying $5 battery-powered barking dogs that you see at the toy stores.

And some people claim that we need robots to look after the elderly. I suspect, that if anything, it will be the other way around.

Very sad news for AI robotics, posted 31 Jan 2006 at 16:56 UTC by outsider » (Journeyer)

I think that this is one of the worst news I could hear. The Aibo robot is one of the best research platforms availables in the market for the study of AI robotics. The researcher can concentrate on the AI research and leave aside the mechanical aspects. The quality of all the parts of the robot is out of doubt, and at an incredible low price. The OPEN-R environment, eventhough it is complex, allows the access and programming of all sensors and actuators of the robot in a very intelligent way (that promised to be robotic platform independent). The robot allows to study all the fields of autonomous robotics like SLAM, pattern recognition, speech recognition, human-interaction, robot locomotion, cognitive robotics, and others.

I think that people that critize the bet of Japan for companing robots instead of more directly practical ones, don't really understand why they did decided for this path of autonomous robots, and why it could be the good way for autonomous robots in real life (for more info read Frederic Kaplan's book 'Les machines apprivoisees'


Interesting reply!, posted 31 Jan 2006 at 22:56 UTC by Nelson » (Journeyer)


Thank you for your reply.

I entirely agree that researchers need access to sturdy, inexpensive, off-the-shelf, working mobile robots so that they can concentrate on the real issues: Algorithms and software.

However, I do not personally agree that AIBO has resulted in any significant advance in SLAM, pattern recognition, speech recognition, or cognitive robotics.

I would agree that for research into the mechanics of multi-leged locomotion, AIBO is a convenient hardware starting point. (Although power constraints will probably gate any commercial applications in the next decade or two, this is certainly a valid area for theoretical research, as much as studies of the aerodynamics of flapping wings.)

I think that the main value of AIBO has been that it actually exists and could be immediately purchased, which is much faster than constructing something from scratch. However, that does not imply that AIBO is a uniquely superior mobile robot platform for research or teaching, compared with other, significantly less expensive possibilities that will be coming onto the market in the near future.

Nelson Bridwell www.MobileRobot.Org

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