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March 24, 2003

Enhanced motion control and communication capabilities in Small Biped Entertainment Robot (SDR-4X II ) to be exhibited at ROBODEX2003

    Tokyo Japan, March 24, 2003 - Sony Corporation today announced the enhanced version of the SDR-4 II(prototype) with enhanced motion control and communication capabilities. It will be exhibited at ROBODEX2003, scheduled to take place from April 3rdto 6that Pacifico Yokohama (with a press preview day on April 2nd), and various performances will be introduced. In addition, each series of AIBO will be exhibited, introducing softwares which will expand the possibilities of AIBO as an entertainment robot.

    SDR-4X II (prototype)
    SDR-4X II (prototype)

    Main Exhibition at ROBODEX2003

    • Small biped Entertainment Robot
      SDR-4X II(prototype)
    • Four-legged Entertainment Robot AIBO
      ERS-210A, 311B, 31L, 312B, others
    • Newly developed Application Software
      Photo Mail(prototype)
    • New software development environment
      AIBO Remote Framework(tentative naming)

    Special features of newly developed SDR-4X II

    <SDR-4X II> is the enhanced version of <SDR-4X> which was developed last year. The enhancements focus on its motion control and communication capabilities with people.

    (1)Enhancement in motion control capabilities
    One of the most important issues which must be addressed in biped walking robots is the solution for fall-over. In <SDR-4X II>, in addition to its ability to not fall-over, technologies have been applied to deal with the situation when it actually does fall-over. In case it is faced with a fall-over situation, it will adjust to make a motion control to avoid this in advance. Also, if it cannot avoid fall-over, it will simultaneously take a posture to minimize the damage. It comes equipped with a Fall-over Avoidance Motion Control System. Here, actuators make compliant control to reduce the impact of the ground contact with the cooperative motion control of the fall-over in any direction. In the new model, Recovery Motion Control System has been enhanced for recovery from the fall-over situation.

    (2)Improvement in Safety Capabilities
    The key to success for entertainment robots lies in interaction with people. Safe design with respect to interaction with people is therefore vital. In <SDR-4X II>, a newly developed small-size actuator is introduced to enable high performance such as Active Compliance Control and Active Shock Absorbance Control. If something gets trapped in the moving parts of the robot, it is so designed that many of the touch sensors in the moving parts will detect the situation, leveling down the power of actuators to a safe level. Also, by grabbing on the grip at the back of the robot and lifting it up, the overall movement level can be reduced, as well as powering down the torque at each joint by lifting it up for safe maintenance.

    (3)Introduction of Map-building/Identification capabilities
    Recognizing pre-registered color identifiers, <SDR-4X II>will learn the configuration of the color identifiers.
    An enhancement is the newly introduced 'map-building/identification capability', allowing the robot to self-recognize its estimated location in this learned configuration. From this capability, using color recognition, the robot is able to use its judgment to move to an adequate position or to make a move appropriate to its positioning/location.

    (4)Enhancement in spoken dialogue capabilities
    By adding one CPU for speech recognition and synthesis, it is possible to internally process recognition of large vocabularies (approximately 20,000 vocabularies), which was only previously possible by connecting to an external PC, enabling improved response. In addition, ability to memorize individual faces and names is improved, by memorizing various words from spoken dialogue with people, realizing spoken dialogue that matches each individual. Furthermore, preset topic-wise scenario offers interesting spoken dialogue, geared to each individual. The robot is capable of responding differently utilizing the new phrase-driven dialogue skill, enabling entertainment-rich conversation.

    (5)Development of Entertainment content
    Including an original song called 'Kiseki no Tabi', composed by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and lyrics by Takashi Nakahata, more than 10 songs, 1,000 motions of various scales and 200 scenarios of interactive spoken dialogue have been developed as entertainment content for <SDR-4X II>. Also, a design tool is developed, by which it is possible to design autonomous behavior by combining these contents. Thus, it is possible to develop an entertainment robot that provides entertainment with natural autonomous behavior.

    (6)Power-charging station
    An internal battery charging system as well as a separate station to obtain and install the robot's internal information are newly developed.

    Main Specifications of SDR-4X II

    CPU 64 bit RISC processor (3)
    Main Memory 64MB DRAM (3)
    Operating System Aperios (Sony's original real time OS)
    Robot Control Architecture OPEN-R
    Control Program Supplying Media Memory Stick
    Joint Degree of Freedom (Total:38 DOF) Neck:4 DOF, Body:2 DOF, Arms:5 DOF (x2), Legs:6 DOF (x2), independent hands (5 fingers on each hand)
    Sensors & Switch Distance Sensor Infrared system distance sensor:Head 1,Hand 1 (x2)
    Acceleration Sensor Trunk:X,Y,Z/3 axes, Foot:X,Y/2 axes (x2)
    Angular Rate Sensor Trunk:X,Y,Z/3 axes
    Foot Sensor Foot 4 (x2)
    Thermo Sensor Hand 1 (x2),Foot 1 (x2),Head 1,Body1,Actuator 22
    Touch Sensor Head:4,Hand:1 (x2),Shoulder:1 (x2)
    Pinch Detection Sensor Overall:18
    Grip switch Back:1
    Image Input 110,000 color pixels CCD camera (x2)
    Audio IN/OUT Microphone (x7) / Speaker (x1)
    Input/Output PC card slot (TypeII) (x1),
    Memory Stick slot (x1)
    LED display Eye (4096 colors each), Ears (1 color, 16 gradation), Power (2 colors)
    Weight Approximately 7kg (with battery and memory)
    Dimension (height x width x depth) Approximately 580 x 270 x 190mm

    Introducing Newly developed softwares

    Sony is also developing softwares to expand the fun of AIBO. At ROBODEX2003, the below mentioned softwares will be introduced.

    Application Software <Photo Mail> (Prototype)

    This is an application software which allows remote location photo-shooting through AIBO using e-mail systems. Sending commands by e-mail, AIBO will shoot pictures, and the image will be sent by e-mail. By using a wireless LAN system, AIBO will access customers' mail server at regular intervals, enabling image shooting and instructions for sending pictures through e-mail. Setting image shooting directions and image shooting sound commands ('cues') are also possible.

    Software Development environment <AIBO Remote Framework> (tentative naming)

    This is a development environment to produce PC applications to control AIBO from a computer via a wireless LAN. <AIBO Remote Framework>' makes possible the development of PC applications which will allow instructions to be sent from a PC to AIBO. This will cover manipulating AIBO's data such as sound, image, joint angle, sensor values, etc. processed using a PC. This will then enable new applications of AIBO, not limited to the entertainment field.

    AIBO Homepage available to public: *this link is no longer active and a revised page does not exist.

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