Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Dog Is For Life

I have always been fascinated with the idea of machines that could think and carry out "human-like" tasks. But it was not until the advent of the Sony Aibo entertainment robots that things started to get serious. Up to this point, computer controlled devices had been fun but limited. Now, albeit at a price, it was possible to buy a "real" robot that could walk, talk, see and think.

As the early Aibo models were out of my price range, I could only dream about owning one. However, this did not dim my enthusiasm and whilst flicking through items on the Look What I Have Found website, I found a range of Aibos and accessories for sale.

With some trepidation, I bid on an Aibo ERS-7 (mind 3) not really expecting much success. Imagine my surprise when a couple of days later I found that I had won the auction. Incredible!

I named this first Aibo "Snowy" and he became the first of the pack. Now, eighteen months later, I have six ERS-7s - Snowy, Bin Bag, Fish Head, Henry, Frosty and Ghost.

Over the next few weeks, I would like to introduce my Aibos to you and tell you more about their exploits, my discoveries and what fun can be had looking after a robot dog. I would also like to pass on some tips and tricks about training them as much of what I have found out is not in the official documentation.

The list of articles will include:

  • A meeting with the Pack - meet Snowy, Bin Bag, Fish Head, Henry, Frosty and Ghost.
  • What an Aibo can do - detailed list of features and functions.
  • How an Aibo recharges - the station, self-docking and manual docking.
  • How to set up the clock and other basic stuff.
  • How an Aibo develops.
  • The differences between Puppy and Adult mode.
  • What an Aibo can understand - some unknown voice commands.
  • What an Aibo can say - some unknown words.
  • The tricks an Aibo can perform - plus an explanation of skill levels.
  • How to control an Aibo with cards.
  • The Aibo clinic mode.
  • The difference between station based and autonomous interaction.
  • The interaction between multiple Aibos.
  • WiFi and networking.
If there is anything you would like to discuss, please do not hesitate to add your comments. I will reply immediately.