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Sony's New Bi-Pedal Robot 272

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the give-me-robbie-the-robot dept.
TestBoy writes "Sony is releasing a new bipedal robot for home use. It has a 60,000 word vocabulary and can even sing songs." I am especially amused by the photograph of synchronized dancing robots, and the fact that the new bot will cost as much as a luxury car! But it has some impressive stuff like facial recognition
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Sony's New Bi-Pedal Robot

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  • lalala (Score:2, Funny)

    by Vodak (119225)
    See, now if Sony can make a Playstation that sings to you when your playing that'd be awsome =]
    • Hey, go easy on them, they just built a 'Metal Gear' for real...
    • Re:lalala (Score:2, Funny)

      by ackthpt (218170)
      Yeah, "lalala", you'll be griping like Kasparov [ibm.com] when it beats you at games on your Playstation 2 and then regales you with a victory dance, "In YO face, In YO face! Recognize me!" ;)
      • Yeah, "lalala", you'll be griping like Kasparov when it beats you at games on your Playstation 2 and then regales you with a victory dance.

        If that's the case, then adjust the clock speed to your skill level. :)
  • Sony (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rot26 (240034)
    I sure hope all the songs it sings are properly licensed.

    • and even sing once programmed with music and lyrics

      It's your responsibility to make sure your robot violates no copyright laws when singing.

      • If the robot is capable of violating copyright by singing Styx's "Mr. Roboto", and Sony made it, aren't they responsible for creating a device which can be used to circumvent copyright?

        Sick the DMCA on them, see how *they* like it.
    • I sure hope all the songs it sings are properly licensed.

      Not to worry - the ever-thinking engineers at Sony have taken that problem into consideration. Your robot will come with a credit card reader and a cell-phone so that it can charge the appropriate royalties to your card on a per-incident basis... In the event that the cell network is down, the robot is equipped with a redundant payment system: there is a coin slot so that you can make your payments on-the-spot.
  • If a robot can sing, it's gotta sing "Daisy."

    • Didn't the old school HERO Jr Robot sing DAISY? It also sung about a bicycle built for 2. i borrowed a friend of mine's HERO about 10 years ago, and it couldn't go 10 feet without getting stuck on nothing, proclaming "help! help!". That robot drove the dogs nuts.
    • And the transcript of it singing would go something like:

      HAL: If you'd like to hear it, I can sing it for you.
      Dave Bowman: Yes...I'd like to hear it HAL....Sing it for me.
      HAL: It's called "Daisy" Daisy....Daisy.....Give me your answer due.....I'm half-crazy....all for the love of you....
    • No no no! That's for deranged computers!

      Robots have to sing this...

      Share and enjoy
      Share and Enjoy, Share and Enjoy,
      Journey through life with a plastic boy
      Or girl by your side, let your pal be your guide,
      And when it breaks down or starts to annoy,
      Or grinds when it moves and gives you no joy
      Cos it's eaten your hat or had sex with your cat,
      Bled oil on your floor or ripped off your door,
      And you get to the point you can't stand any more,
      Bring it to us, we won't give a fig. We'll tell you
      Go stick your head in a pig.
  • ...but can it trash a major metropolitan area? =D

    -Henry
  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:04AM (#3187611) Journal
    Hmmmm. So. It can do 6E4 different jobs? But can it be voice controlled? That's what I want, a robot with a 60,000 word vocabulary.
  • ...Or will it get jelous of your wife and axe you to complete its mission? Behold HAL!
  • start spouting off the infamous AYBABTU?

    Ok, had to get it out of the way early..while we are at it:

    I'm afraid I can't let you do that Dave.

    Danger! Danger Will Robinson! Danger!!

    Imagine a beowulf Cluster of Natalie Portman pouring hot grits over a few of these?

    Any other ones I missed?
  • by billmaly (212308) <bill@maly.mcleodusa@net> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:05AM (#3187620)
    Name it Hal. Then I'll start referring to my house as my pod. Then I'll come home everynight, and say "Open the pod bay door Hal!". Then I'll giggle insanely! It'll never ever stop being funny! :)
  • As long as it doesn't look like Haley Joel Osment [imdb.com] I'll probably buy two.
  • Honda released its new robot today, too... also bipedal, but not as entertainment-y as Sony's. I can't find a photo/link at the moment.
  • by qurob (543434)
    It's nice to see this kind of development, but does it bother anyone that it's all Sony/Mitsubishi?

    We've got plenty of bright people in this country, but we don't make things like this.

    We can't afford to fall behind in robot development.
    • Some here [mit.edu], here [caltech.edu], here [cmu.edu], and here [harvard.edu] to name a few, for a large listing try here [google.com].
    • We've got plenty of bright people in this country, but we don't make things like this.

      That's because rich Americans would rather spend $20,000 on a stereo that does everything, or a handheld that can drive your car, instead of a robot that sings and dances at karaoke parties.
      • Definately. One thing that made me curious about the stats on AIBO sales is what the breakdown of that is for Japan vs. the rest of the world. I just can't see westerners paying $1,500 for a robot dog, much less $40,000 for a robotic child.


        We have enough space for REAL dogs, and REAL children, so why bother?

      • That's because rich Americans would rather spend $20,000 on a stereo that does everything, or a handheld that can drive your car, instead of a robot that sings and dances at karaoke parties.

        That, my friend, is EXACTLY what is wrong with this country...
    • There wouldn't be a return in cash terms within 2-3 years so they aren't going to be interested.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:05AM (#3187631) Homepage Journal
    These are not the droids I'm looking for.
  • by meff (170550)
    I wonder when they will merge robotic technology with the Realdoll line. Bring your dreams only made in movies to life! Or, possibly, too much life if the bitch takes over and electrocutes you ;)
  • Finaly! (Score:4, Funny)

    by ShaniaTwain (197446) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:05AM (#3187634) Homepage
    Now I can re-enact this scene [popealien.com]

    I've always wanted a pet robot, now I can feel like it's really the future.
  • This is nothing new, except maybe that a company with the consumer influence of Sony is backing the project.

    Go here [caltech.edu] for a list of more interesting projects...
  • So they will be affordable in my lifetime.

    This is just too cool. All the Asimov I read growing up and to be honest I never thought I would personally own a robot.

    Sure I wont be able to afford one of these. But I can remember when my dad couldn't afford a digital watch or calculator.

    The expensive, limited units today. The cheap, multifunctional units tomorrow.

    This is cool!

    .
  • End of the article: "Yaskawa Electric Corp... has developed a $105,000 bed-shaped robot that can help rehabilitation patients who need to strengthen their legs. "
    That is a bit more practical than the Craftmatic teach-yourself-autofellatio model [craftmatic.com] that's been on TV for years.
  • When are they gonna make them look like Natlie Portman!!
  • I'd only buy one if I could dress it up as Chucky and take it to parties!
  • by pbryan (83482)
    Face recognition? Expensive? Bah, the ED-209 [angelfire.com] has all these features, and more.
  • ...Robin Williams. And I'll bet you thought I was going to say Roblimo. Actually, I didn't think The Bicentennial Man was *that* bad, but I just wish they'd stuck a little Susan Calvin footage in.
  • Sony's not the only company attempting to recreate Pinocchio [imdb.com]. It'll face competition from ZMP Inc's "Pino" robot [google.com].

    Question: Who will get the Disney deal [imdb.com] first?

    • > Sony's not the only company attempting to recreate Pinocchio [imdb.com]. It'll face competition from ZMP Inc's "Pino" robot [google.com].
      >
      > Question: Who will get the Disney deal [imdb.com] first?

      Investment plan:

      Find out who gets the Disney deal. Short their stock. Find out their closest competitor. Buy all the stock I can afford.

      The Disney company sells one or two units to every household, and that's that.

      The company that didn't get the Disney deal gets to sell (to your g/f or wife) the version of Pinocchio that accurately interprets the programming command: "Everything you say to your owner is a lie."

      Waaaaaay more money in that market, particularly given that the nose of that robot burns out after about an hour or two and you gotta buy her a new one, but by then, she doesn't care ;-)

  • Thank God! Now I don't have to have children.

    ...it has some impressive stuff like facial recognition

    Sadly, I'd be more impressed if it had stuff like facial hair.

  • by DeltaBlaster (300386) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:15AM (#3187717) Homepage
    Hmm.. how long will it take someone to mod one with a chainsaw and a flame thrower and use it as a battle bot? :)

  • 60k words? That's more than all the slashdot editor's vocabularies put together!

    Actually, not too many people have a spoken vocabulary that large.
    • 60k words? ... not too many people have a spoken vocabulary that large.

      Humans don't really need thousands of words to communicate. Some spoken languages have about 1000 words; others have fewer than 150 [tokipona.org]. Indian Sign Language has about 200 words in common use [inquiry.net].

    • by cgenman (325138) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:50AM (#3187980) Homepage
      60k words aren't that many for a robot living in Japan. 60k words are about as much vocabulary as you would need to say "I want to get some ice cream" in japanese, though saying "very much hello person who is above me in the social stature and introduced by a lower co-worker" takes about two.

      When these things can read Kanji, then I'll be impressed.
      • > 60k words are about as much vocabulary as you would need to say "I want to get some ice cream" in japanese, though saying "very much hello person who is above me in the social stature and introduced by a lower co-worker" takes about two.

        Moral of the story: If you want a polite society that values automation and small consumer electronics, put some people on an island with no natural resources, but good trading links, and let simmer for 2500 years.

        Prediction: Our first space colonies will have red circles on the sides of their spaceships, not stars.

      • Or even better, be able to spout out mnemonic devices for Kanji. My Japanese textbook's got some really good ones:
        For KIN/chika (near/nearby), the mnemonic device is "With this huge caterpillar near, you'll need an axe to protect yourself!"
  • 60,000 words, luxury car cost == 60,000 dollars. Somehow it seems a bit high.

    Oh yeah, Sony is always overpriced :-)
  • for the pr0n industry! Dress it in high-heels (it could handle uneven sufaces, right?) and a corset and you have the gadget-lovers dream partner!
  • Technical info (Score:5, Informative)

    by LinuxTek (36519) <slashdot@javPLAN ... minus physicist> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:18AM (#3187750) Homepage
    In this [smartmoney.com] article there's some extra technical information, like the fact that it has 2 64-bit RISC processors and runs the Apertos [sony.co.jp] Operating System (now called Aperios).
    • Sony's own press-release offers much more information than the article on smartmoney.com. Just like it's predecessor (the SDR-3X), the SDR-4X offers a MemoryStick-slot to supply additional control programs.

      Press-release [sony.co.jp]
  • Roujin Z (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tempmpi (233132)
    Yaskawa Electric Corp., which supplies robots to auto assembly lines, has developed a $105,000 bed-shaped robot that can help rehabilitation patients who need to strengthen their legs.

    Sounds like Roujin Z [animefu.com] to me. Roujin Z is a very funny anime by Katsuhiro Ôtomo, the director of the famous Akira. In the anime the story follows an old man in a new hightech bed, that is made to care for him. You can read a much longer review here. [haverford.edu]
  • Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by crumbz (41803) <<remove_spam>jus ... CKWARE>gmail.com> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:21AM (#3187774) Homepage
    Now it can walk my AIBO at 6:00 in the morning.
  • I will buy one, then film the Lego version of "The Day The Earth Stood Still". I will recoup my losses in just a few weeks!

    George Lucas, Fear Me!

  • by Salsaman (141471) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:26AM (#3187806) Homepage
    MS employee: excuse me Mr Sony exhibitor, you aren't allowed to let customers play on your Playstations, you will have to pack 'em all up and take them away !

    Sony employee: ah Mr Microsoft exhibitor, allow me to introduce our latest model bipedal *hunter-killer* robot, fresh from our development labs...

    Robot: is there a problem here ?

    MS employee: erm, on second thoughts, just carry on as you were...

  • I just want the technology to progress to the point where I can get a "Teddy" from AI.
    • Id rather have AI as in the computer Auger had in "Earth Final Conflict". Who can actually do work, control external objects, be usefull.

      BTW, I didnt say fembot. But if it could cook and clean, ill buy one.
  • I can't see something as expensive as a car becoming especially popular, but it's great to think about what might evolve from these little dudes in a few years' time. Five or so years from now they'll probably be down to a few thousand dollars and ten times as intelligent. I can see them being used for things like domestic maintenance, helping the elderly and disabled, going into dangerous environments, they could even have military applications.

    Plus, it's just be cool to have one in the server room to reboot boxes for us, and make coffee :-)
  • Entertainment robots are fine....I'm sure I would love to have one. But the company who develops the first robot that can: do the dishes, mow the lawn, and vacuum the floor will change the world. I don't care if it can sing or not.
  • How long will it be before we have "bot bands" taking on the charts? Move over NSYNC bring on the "Backstreet Bots".
  • Vocabulary (Score:5, Funny)

    by wowbagger (69688) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:34AM (#3187871) Homepage Journal
    It may have a 60000 word vocabulary, but 30000 of the words are "beedy-beedy-beedy" [imdb.com]

    And the optional computer to translate for you is another $60k.
  • Sony released a prototype calld SDR-3X some time ago. You can see an article of it and video here [nikkeibp.co.jp].

  • by flumps (240328) <matt.corby@COFFE ... m minus caffeine> on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:39AM (#3187915) Homepage
    "For that, the robot has sensors on the bottom of its feet to help it walk on uneven surfaces such as carpeting and has been programmed to tumble without falling apart and then get up on its own, Doi said."
    er, scuse me mr doi, but how do you program it not to fall apart when it falls over?
    ...
    if(robot->sensor.overload && robot->falling)
    {
    robot->say("danger, danger, get the hell out my way!");
    robot->donotfallapart = true;
    }
    ...

    hmm
    :)
    • I'm so glad I'm not the only one that was perplexed by this.

      How the hell does one program a machine to not fall apart when trips down the stairs or get's kicked by the kids?

      I chalk it up to the morons at Fox..."we're infotainment not news damnit"...News.
  • by SpinyNorman (33776) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @11:44AM (#3187948)
    For the price of a luixury car IMO it better have "3 functioning inputs".

    Sony meets RealDoll?
  • I guess that would be handy for relaying messages from different parts of the house where you couldn't be heard, but I can't imagine the conversation depth getting much further than Dr. Sbaitso with a better frequency range.

    OTOH, It does have a photographic memory and some command of communication. If Sony would add a cash recognition device, beefed up the SDR-4X's carrying capacity, and pepped up it's mobility in some way, this thing would be great for doing beer runs!
  • Sony should make this guy a PSX peripheral. Then I can compete against this little guy in Dance Dance Revolution.

    -prator
  • In college anthropology, I was taught that the average _human_ vocabulary is 40,000 words.

    I know a computer can store thousands of words in its RAM or ROM, but calling that a vocabulary is overstretching the point. "Vocabulary" implies comprehension.

    I'll wager this robot can't tell its nouns from most of verbs.
    • In college anthropology, I was taught that the average _human_ vocabulary is 40,000 words.

      This is the "average" vocabulary. If I were dropping $50k on a toy to interact with, I would not want to talk to someone/something with an average vocabulary. The average college grad has approx a 60-80k word vocabulary and the average doctoral grad has approx 80k-120k word vocabulary.

      The problem with defining vocabulary however is defining what counts as a real word. Is a vocabulary word one that someone uses properly, or perhaps one that will be understood in some sort of contextual paradigm but not be easily to define?

      Additionally, I would be interested to see what is defined as active versus passive uses words in the vocabulary.
  • Many of the posters here seem to want a device that can do more than just sing and dance. cnet [news.com] has a piece [com.com] on the debate, balancing the SDR-4X vs the Asimo. The Asimo, btw, is 150,000 per unit per year (per the article). That's a lot more than leasing three cars. I presume we need robotic housekeepers because, while they are far more expensive than a living, breathing housekeeper, they don't think and we don't have to feel ackward around them. Neither reason explains why we need a robot that sings and dances.

    I wonder if this is what being a god is like. Does she laugh at the pointlessness of it all too? Will Sony make an SDR-5X that makes little robots out of Mindstorms?

  • Sony Robot + RealDoll [realdoll.com] = Robotics' killer app.

    You have been warned.
  • ...that Sony is a member of both the MPAA and RIAA? Yeah, wow, sugoi andro-roboto and all that crap, but this is a product of a company with some of the nastiest intellectual property policies on the planet?

    I mean, yeah, it's cool and all, but remember where it comes from.

  • So now all we need is our own Gungan army.
  • The article mentions that the robot, if tipped, is programmed to fall in such a way as to minimize damage. Does it tuck and roll, I wonder? I'd love to see a video of that!
  • Link to video (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dr. Spork (142693) on Tuesday March 19, 2002 @01:05PM (#3188621)
    This was a part from the German ARD afternoon news [tagesschau.de]. The video speaks for itself, even if you don't understand the German commentary.

    • Something sounded like "auf inderschleiden umf POSITRONIC BRAIN bis hin zum fertigen..."

      Whhaaaaattt???? These things are cooler than I thought!

      -Russ

  • PS2 as robot hub? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by binaryDigit (557647)
    I wonder if Sony has plans on allowing the Aibo and SDR-4X to be controlled or programmed using the PS2? That would be pretty cool. You could use the PS2 to track them and download songs, etc, etc. Heck you could even play against SDR, now that would be serious cool. Definitely brings up some interesting possibilities.
  • If you've ever had the chance to handle one, you realize that the Aibo is incredibly dumb. Its movement programming is very rigid; it can't deal with obstacles or edges at all. The limb motions look like constant-speed positional control. On a good day, you can get it to walk towards its special ball. For what's inside the thing, it's disappointing. That gadget has considerable computing power and good mechanics, but disappointing software.

    This new humanoid unit seems to be an upgrade of the Aibo technology. I'm curious to see how good the balance control is.

  • and gets rid of annoying door to door salesman, Then I'll buy one.
  • Marvin (Score:2, Funny)

    by Jaycatt (530986)
    I'll name mine Marvin, and keep it's batteries low, so it can always feel depressed.
  • Christmas is almost upon us (never too early to start the advertising blitz) and it's time to figure out what kind of totally useless gimick those people with $50,000 burning a hole in their pocket (don't we all?) can get their kids for Christmas. Now, do they get a 2' tall robot, or ten Segways?

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