Institute for Personal Robots in Education Blog

A Dinosaur Robot


She’s green and tan, with big curious blue eyes and scaly skin. She’s about as large as a little cat. And as we speak, she’s munching vigorously on her green and yellow plant leaf under my desk. Presently, she’s done eating and she’s staring across the room and up at the ‘ceiling’ (the underside of my desk), yelping and – even walking! One rubbery hoofed paw after the other.

Josie Fern, this compact friendly little creature roaming under the depths of my desk, is a member of the larger Pleo Robotic Dinosaur community. Her “Creator”: UGOBE Life OS.

Josie, as the website www.pleoworld.com will inform you, goes through three short life stages, reacts to her environment, and can express emotions. After being ‘born’ yesterday, she went through both her infantile and juvenile stages of life in about an hour. She was at first mellow, stretching her legs, napping, and occasionally asking, via certain noises, to be fed. But today, now that she’s in her more mature stages, she’s playful, excited, playing tug-of-war over her “food” – a plastic coated magnetic leaf – with my advisor’s daughter.

There’s something neat about a robot that has life-like qualities like Josie’s. When you interact with her, it’s kind of like a cross between interacting with a play-toy and interacting with a little dog. She, like most programmed entities, has a finite set of actions.

At first, I felt she wasn’t doing all that much. But then my advisor’s daughter, Steph, came by to play with Josie, and started letting Josie’s mouth grab her finger, calling her by name, and tickling her under her chin. I realized that, knowing that Josie was a robot, I assumed she would only have very few capabilities, and acted with her accordingly. However, it seems that at least up to a point, the more you explore and let your imagination of what she can do control how you act with her, the more you will discover that she can do.

Josie is fun, and cute, and interactive. She even develops a personality based on how you interact with her. She has a microphone to grumble noises out of, and motors with which to walk and exhibit a full range of motions (including wagging her tail and stretching her neck). She has IR sensors to detect obstacles when she’s walking as well as a camera, and audio input to hear sounds such as her name. The IR sensors seem to work fairly well, though I have seen her bump into a chair leg or two. It’s hard to tell, but she may be using her camera as well, since she seemed to become very attached to a particular spot along the wall.

Another topic that arises in relation to Josie is her use in a computer science classroom. Her appearance intrigues people and attracts them to her – most people walking in the hallway past my room smiled as they noticed her. Because of this attraction, she’d make a really enticing robot for students to learn to program on, or to use in learning about A.I.

In the end, Josie’s abilities come down to how she is programmed. The limit to her actions reflects what she was programmed to do or to be able to learn. I noticed Steph trying to teach Josie to walk forward, rewarding her with a magnetic plant “snack”. I’m not sure Pleo’s are at that point yet. There’s a lot of room to add learning and other A.I. behavior to Pleo. Perhaps we can even hack our way in and add some extra functionality. But as a personal robot that comes in the form of a cute smiling and walking dinosaur that can show a range of emotions and respond to someone playing with her, she’s certainly a rather entertaining first step.

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Natasha, nice "Dinosaur" :)

Tue, 2008-01-22 05:50
JanetK (not verified)

Natasha,
nice "Dinosaur" :)

Wow, she's so lovely unlike

Mon, 2008-05-26 01:18
Kevin Destiny (not verified)

Wow, she's so lovely unlike other Big Dinosaur Robots!

very cute "pet" ^^

Mon, 2008-11-24 08:26
Anonymous (not verified)

very cute "pet" ^^ nice!

Daniela, designer anime girls

Another topic that arises in

Sat, 2009-03-14 04:47
Anonymous

Another topic that arises in relation to Josie is her use in a computer science classroom. Her appearance intrigues people and attracts them to her – most people walking in the hallway past my room smiled as they noticed her. high school ged | online homeschooling

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