Saturday, 20 December 2003

Sony's Qrio

Sony has a successor to Asimo out. Qrio. Qrio's main feature is its motion flexibility, being able to run, recover from a fall, dance etc. It also has face recognition, voice recognition, dialogue (eat your heart out Halo), emotional signalling (by colour of "eyes"), five fingered hands, WiFi ( or something better), and stands only 58cm high. Qrio is also known as the SDR-4X II. The movies on the web site are worth watching, and its fluidity of movement is un-nerving. Give is a pseudo-skin like covering and you've got a baby android.

Qrio with George Lucas.

Some choice snippets from interviews on the site:

Toshitada Doi - President Sony Intelligent Dynamics Research Institute

"Take QRIO as an example. We suggested the idea of an "eight year-old space life form" to the designer -- we didn't want to make it too similar to a human. In the background, as well, lay an idea passed down from the man whose work forms the foundation of the Japanese robot industry, Masahiro Mori: "the valley of eeriness". If your design is too close to human form, at a certain point it becomes just too . . . uncanny. So, while we created QRIO in a human image, we also wanted to give it little bit of a "spaceman" feel."

"In thirty years I think the personal robot industry will be bigger than the personal computer industry. We need to do more research, however, into movement but also into intelligence. So far we've called it "artificial intelligence", but I'd like to see a new research field branch off from that called "intelligent dynamics". This would merge research into both intellectual and physical knowledge. We also need to do more research that scientifically analyzes how information is processed in the brain."

Satoshi Amagani - President Sony Entertainment Robot Company

"We want to create something that's fun to be with, can be of help at times, even something that one can talk to when one is lonely. While packing it with Sony's entertainment assets like music and games, we also want to fill it with the latest technology. So while it's being promoted just as an entertainment device, it's also a very convenient, smart, handy robot to have around. For instance, QRIO can connect to the net, so to a certain extent it's an "internet robot". In the 21st century, the issue of how to gather information from a network has become very important. You can speak to QRIO and ask the time, what your schedule is today, exchange information, communicate -- so in addition to the entertainment role, I think it should be helpful in a variety of ways."

"We're currently determining how, and to what extent, we should offer it as a product, because as soon as robots become bipedal the demand from people skyrockets. We have to consider everything from safety to price point. However, I believe this robot will make the dreams of many people come true -- "bringing dreams to people", as it were. In that way QRIO is a very typical SONY product. At the moment it is the only one of its kind, so I also think it can fill the role of "image leader" for SONY."

Masahiro Fujita - Research Director Sony IDRI

"AIBO is a robot pet, while QRIO was modeled on a person -- and moreover, is able to move smoothly walking on two legs. So naturally, it inspires expectations in those who see it that correspond to its ability to move and walk on two legs. For that reason we had to achieve a much higher level of intelligence than we did with AIBO. We gave it a much better understanding of its surroundings, by incorporating stereovision in its video processing system and seven microphones in its audio processing system. As well, QRIO has the ability to engage in dialogue -- a quintessential human ability. Speech dialogue technology still faces many difficulties, but with QRIO we've made great progress. First, it has the important ability to distinguish between people, recognize voices and remember them. We did a great deal of experimentation regarding its conversation ability, much of it focused on how best to make use of its memories. Technology may not quite have advanced far enough for real conversation, but QRIO can make very entertaining dialogue. And furthermore, we developed an autonomous movement architecture to incorporate all of these capabilities that is capable of more complicated movements than AIBO is, able for example to restart a movement that had been involuntarily stopped in progress."

"What we expected of AIBO was for it to take on the role of a pet. QRIO, on the other hand, might exist at the level of a child. The objective is a partner for human beings. We want it to become a friend, a member of the family. One of my goals is to create a robot that can share human experiences. We might be moving too far into the future, but a robot that would go out with its owner, see the same things, have the same experiences a person would, evaluate them with some inbuilt system, have fun, be sad, and then talk about it all with a human being. Wouldn't it be something if we could build a robot like that?"

***Imported from old blog***

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