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June 10, 1998

Sony Develops OPEN-R Architecture for Entertainment Robots
Demonstrates 4-legged robot prototypes based on the architecture


Tokyo, Japan- Sony Corporation today announced the development of the OPEN-R architecture for entertainment robots. The new architecture involves the use of modular hardware components, such as appendages that can be easily removed and replaced to change the shape and function of the robots, and modular software components that can be interchanged to change their behavior and movement patterns.

Entertainment robots, unlike those used for automated manufacturing, are an entirely new category of robot designed for entertainment uses. The main advantage of the OPEN-R architecture, which has been developed to help realize the creation of this new type of robot, is the hardware and software modularity not present in most industrial-use robots of today.

Main Features of OPEN-R Architecture:

1) Interchangeable Hardware Modules for Various Physical Configurations
Through the use of interchangeable hardware modules- such as appendages- it will become possible to construct robots that can be reconfigured to suit multiple uses. For example, a 4-legged walking robot could be changed into a 2-wheeled rolling robot by simply disconnecting the legs and replacing them with a wheeled module. By adopting an easily adaptable mechanical structure, it becomes possible to interchange hardware modules without the need to use any special tools.

2) Hardware-Related Data Transmission for Plug-and-Play Connectivity
Built into each hardware module is basic data that describes the module's structure, function, and position to enable it to be controlled by the robot. As each hardware module is attached to the robot, data is transmitted from the individual hardware module to the CPU in the main body unit across a high-speed serial bus. The data allows the robot to recognize the configuration of its entire body, its movement capabilities, and its functions. The robot then uses the data to select the most appropriate control signals for coordinating its movement appendage and disseminates them to the individual appendages.
In this way, it is not necessary to replace the software program that controls the robot's movements even when appendages are removed and replaced. Rather, it is possible to attach and remove the individual hardware modules with the ease of plug-and-play connectivity.

3) InterchangeableSoftware Modules for New Applications
The software programs that control the robot's movements and responses have also been made modular, and they are accessible to the CPU through card slots in the main body. Using pre-recorded modular memory cards, it is possible to change a robot's behavior by simply replacing one memory card with another card suited for a purpose. In addition to software programs that would allow the robot to act as a pet or an opponent in a game, image and sound recognition programs would make it possible to realize a wide variety of other robot applications by simply changing or replacing modular software modules.

4) Expandability for Accommodation of New Functions
It is possible not only to insert memory cards, but also functional expansion cards, into the main body unit's card slots. Through the use of wireless control or network expansion cards, for instance, it would be possible to remotely control a robot or even have a number robots cooperate to perform tasks that would be very difficult to accomplish through software processingalone.

Sony will continue further research and development aimed at using OPEN-R as a basic architecture upon which to create a market for robot entertainment.

Sony Corporation is a leading manufacturer of audio, video, communications and information technology products for the consumer and professional markets. Its music, pictures and computer entertainment operations make Sony one of the most comprehensive entertainment companies in the world. Sony recorded consolidated annual sales of over $51 billion for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, and it employs 173,000 people worldwide.

Sony's Homepage URL:

OPEN-R Technical Summary

Operating System: Aperios
*(Sony's Proprietary Real-Time OS)
OPEN-R Bus: 10 Pin Connector
*Data: 2 Pin
*Data Transmission Speed: 12 Mbps
*Clock: 1 Pin
*Clock Frequency: 12 MHz
*Circuit Power Source: 3 Pin (including 1 ground)
*Voltage/ Maximum Current: 3.3V, 1A
*Mechanical Power Source: 4 Pin (Including 1 ground)
*Voltage/ Maximum Current: 5V, 2A
Memory Card Interface: Memory Card Specifications
Expansion Interface: PC Card Specifications
Development System Interface: USB Specifications

Specifications of Prototype Robot

*4-Legged Autonomous Robot (Equipped with 4-legged hardware modules)
CPU: MIPS 64 Bit RISC Processor
Main Internal Memory: 8MB DRAM
Operating System: Aperios (Sony's Proprietary Real-Time OS)
Supplemental Memory: PC Card (Type II, 2 slots)
Video Input: CCD Color Video Camera (1/5 inch, 180,000 pixels)
Audio Input: Stereo Microphone
Audio Output: Speaker (Mono)
Movable Joints: 16 Total degrees-of-freedom
- 4 legs with 3 degrees-of-freedom
- 1 Head with 3 degrees-of-freedom
- 1 Tail with 1 degree-of-freedom
Walking Speed: About 5m/min.
Weight: 1.25kg (including batteries)
Maximum Dimensions: 132 X 250 X 235mm
(Width X Height X Length, not including tail)
Batteries: One 7.2V Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
: One 4.8V Rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium Battery

* Installed Application Module
Movement/ Behavior: walking, sitting, standing, sleeping, various motions
Image Processor: color region recognition, motion detection, etc.

* 2-Wheeled Rolling Module
Movable Parts: 2 degrees-of-freedom
Maximum Dimensions: 160 X 128 X 72mm (Width X Height X Length)
Weight: about 0.35kg