Rescued AIBO Pound Pups Learn to Speak!

Posted 28 Jun 2006 at 05:15 UTC by The Swirling Brain Share This

The AIBO robot dog was, of course, put down by SONY recently and we all shed a tear and thought they were no more. Further, I guess it could be said that dead robot dogs tell no tails. (or rather TALES). Well, a bunch of Italian researchers have rescued some of the AIBO dogs from being put down and are and trying to encourage them to create their own language. The dogs are programmed with Embedded Communicating Agents to sense and recognize objects and interact with them. The dogs can sense an object and give each object a sound (a name). Other sounds are given to attributes of the object or information about its surroundings. For example the dogs might communicate with each other about a ball, also the color of the ball, where the ball is and if it's moving. The dogs start with simple communicative skills and over time they build a huge lexicon of words and data all by interacting with the environment. The researchers believe this process is similar to how humans develop language. The robot dogs even take things a step further by doing a sort of borg-like communication. The dogs share data in a sort of collaborative group think or pack mentality. Of course, the obvious reason for all this mind blowing linguistic AI communication research and resurrecting the AIBO Robot dog from the dead is?... "The technology could lead to robots able to carry out rescue operations by swarming over inaccessible areas to find people," Nolfi says.

Rube Goldbergesque, posted 28 Jun 2006 at 17:46 UTC by stokes » (Apprentice)

While I think robots are cool and all, using robots in this project seems unnecessary and adds a level of complexity that detracts from the usability of the results. Projects to evolve communication purely in a-life simulations have been going on for decades and still have a long way to go on their own. This project complicates that by adding the complexities of real-world sensors and locomotion, which themselves are fields still being researched. Putting the research on robots is a good PR move since robot dogs are cute and exciting, but it's like getting a cannon and firing shells in parabolic arcs to study triginometry.

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