Thanks to a new web-based API, developers can now teach Sony’s Aibo robot dog new tricks.
Sony just released software update 2.50 for the ERS1000 Aibo that introduces a developer program for experienced developers and a visual programming tool for beginners that features drag-and-drop block coding.
Both allow Aibo owners to program new actions. However, and we’re not sure why Sony wouldn’t allow for this, users can’t change Aibo’s emotions, character or mood through programming. Some of the things you can do with the block programming include “simple movements such as walking and shaking its head to recognizing people or objects nearby and changing its behavior accordingly.”
On the Sony Aibo Developer Program website, it says, “We need help from developers to open the door for Aibo to meet more people and to create greater possibilities for Aibo in the future. Together with Aibo, let’s expand on its unique traits and create a fun, advanced society where robots are a natural part of our lives.”
Misty Robotics recently released its Misty II platform designed to make it easier for developers, educators, and researchers to develop software and accelerate robotics adoption. Misty II is currently available for $2,899 (down from $3,200) or $134 per month. An optional Arduino backpack costs $149.
Sony is trying to develop new skills for Aibo to make it appealing to more consumers. For example, a recent demonstration at the CEATEC show (watch YouTube version below) in Tokyo shows Aibo communicating with Hitachi smart appliances. Instead of using smart speakers, Aibo could bark when laundry is finished or when the microwave finishes heating up food.
Sony originally released Aibo in 1999 and discontinued it in 2006. Sony re-released Aibo in Japan in 2017 and in the United States late in 2018. Given the hefty $2,899 price tag, Aibo won’t be a mass-market play. But perhaps the developer program and some new capabilities will help Aibo find more homes in the niche market.