Pleo: the dinosaur brought back to life
January 7, 2007, We’ve had AIBO and i-SOBOT , now meet Pleo, a puppy-sized robot dinosaur with a programmable personality and cute, realistic looks. The first in a planned series of “Life Forms” designed by a team of designers and engineers at UGOBE, Pleo boasts two 32-bit microprocessors, four 8-bit subprocessors, 14 motors and more than 100 custom-designed gears with interactivity with its owners made possible via on-board Infrared and camera vision systems, two microphones, two speakers and numerous sensors including one in the mouth for "food" detection.
Pleo is the first in a planned series of “Life Forms” designed by a team of designers and engineers at UGOBE Life Forms, a Californian company that develops revolutionary robotics. Life Forms are lifelike robotic creatures engineered to respond to their environment and stimuli through their "Life Form Operating System" (Life OS). To ensure that each one is scientifically authentic the UGOBE team will use advice from experts in fields such as sociology, kinesiology, paleontology and biology. While Life Forms start “life” with the same basic characteristics, once they interact with their individual environments they develop a different “personality” and they are engineered to show genuine responses to sensory stimuli.
The UGOBE team developed Pleo after studying the Camarasaurus, a dinosaur from the Jurassic period. By using fossils of the original Camarasaurus, their one-week old dinosaur’s height and weight is consistent with the original species and his skin is designed to camouflage him in the giant fern forest where he once roamed.
If you can wait until the end of January 2008 (Pleo is backordered until then), for USD$349 you can be the proud owner of this autonomous newly-hatched baby dinosaur. When you receive him he will stretch when he first “wakes” and just like a new baby may cry when he’s hungry or frightened. If he’s tired he will sleep and maybe snore or even dream. He can also sigh, sniff cough, hiccup and make animal sounds but he can’t talk. Pleo has eight skin sensors on his body and will respond to sight, sound and touch. He also has a camera for detecting motion, two built-in microphones for hearing and is suitable for tweens to adults.
Your Pleo won’t get any bigger but he will go through three life stages. He is “born” and “hatches” in about ten minutes when he can stand on all four feet. The “Hatchling” stage will see him start to walk, demand to be fed and start to exhibit a range of emotions. The final stage is the “juvenile” stage which begins after Pleo’s battery has been fully charged (four hours of charging gives you one hour of battery life). This is the stage where Pleo really comes to life.
There’s a dedicated Pleo website where you can register your Pleo, download new features from the UGOBE team or join a forum where you can read comments like: “Mine put his right front foot up and back left foot up and was balancing to make me laugh he was so cute.” Or you can post a “plog” (that’s just a bit too cheesy) and share your pictures, videos and experiences with other Pleo owners.
Robots are definitely here to stay and while it’s impossible to predict whether Pleo will be a hit or miss, he’s sure to tug at a few heartstrings.
- Two 32-bit Microprocessors – central and image processing, four 8-bit Subprocessors
- 14 Motors
- Over 100 Custom-Designed Gears
- Infrared and camera - based vision system
- Two Microphones
- Eight Skin Sensors – head, chin, shoulders, back, legs
- Four Foot Switches – surface detection
- 14 Force-feedback sensors – one per joint
- Orientation Tilt Sensor – body position and Infrared Mouth Sensor – food detection
- Multiple Data Ports
- Mini USB™ port – online downloads
- SD™ card slot for Pleo add-ons
- Infrared transceiver
- Two Speakers – mouth and back
- Power Source
- Rechargeable and replaceable NiMH battery pack
Pleo size specs
- 20.7" long, 6" wide, 7.5" tall, 3.5 lbs (approx. 53 cm long, 15 cm wide, 19 cm tall, 1.6 kgs)