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Pleo Review - A Toy Robot Triumph?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the would-have-liked-a-nice-cuddly-raptor-better dept.

112

SkinnyGuy writes "PCMag has one of the first reviews of the new robotic dinosaur. Is it worth $350? I think this reviewer thinks so. 'What most people will have a hard time understanding is that Ugobe's Pleo is one of the most sophisticated personal home entertainment robotic devices on the market today. It easily outshines robot toys from Wow Wee and Hasbro, though both companies offer robots that cost less than half of what Pleo does. Its nearest competitor, the Wow Wee Robopanda, is a good gift for young children, but it's not nearly as adorable, animated, or intelligent as Pleo. (Yes, it can stand up and crawl, but it doesn't look very good doing it.)'"

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112 comments

Pleo abuse (4, Funny)

Sketch (2817) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615515)

Be sure and check out this video review of how the Pleo responds to torture...

http://dvice.com/archives/2007/12/pleo_post.php?p=1&cat=undefined [dvice.com]

Re:Pleo abuse (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617813)

That is the second video of people abusing robots I have seen linked from this site in as many days. Slashdot is really starting to worry me.

Re:Pleo abuse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21623341)

This was a triumph.
I'm making a note here:
HUGE SUCCESS.

See it in action (3, Informative)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615547)

Thinkgeek has had these for sale for awhile (originally pre-order - currently out-of-stock). They have a pretty decent video hosted on their site. [thinkgeek.com] IMO, nothing can ever beat my Teddy Ruxpin..... /tears up

Re:See it in action (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615711)

Seems like a better robot would be some kind of humanoid, or at least something with an arm you could manipulate. Have a remote control with an LCD screen so that you can see where it's going, and you could probably get it to go to the fridge for you to fetch a beer. I don't think it would be too hard with stereoscopic vision to make it so that it could pick up an item in it's field of view by you just selecting it, via touch screen. I did a 2D version for a robotics class in university, a full 3D version wouldn't be difficult. Much more useful than a dinosaur, which can't pick thing up.

Re:See it in action (1)

rvw (755107) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615907)

I did a 2D version for a robotics class in university, a full 3D version wouldn't be difficult. Much more useful than a dinosaur, which can't pick thing up.
Yeah right. And you are now developing this robot in your parents' basement, not?

Re:See it in action (1)

MyNymWasTaken (879908) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616213)

It's still in "pre-order" status. I'm on the waiting list to purchase one, and have yet to hear anything about it.

Re:See it in action (1)

Grant29 (701796) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616503)

Where did you put your name down on a list. The Pleo Dinosaur [pleodinosaur.net] from amazon looks like it might ship before Christmas. The national geographic site shows a 12/28 ship date.

Re:See it in action (1)

Milhouse22 (1106273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21621117)

Just a note if anyone still has a Teddy Ruxpin, if you put the tape in backwards it would play backwards and you would have a teddy ruxpin speaking in Tongues. This was always fun to do to the display models in stores.

robopanda (2, Funny)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615565)

I'm a little much amused by the fact that the robotpanda (what a great name) comes with the following:

No remote controller needed
Realistic actions and interactive personality
Direct touch sensor and sound control
Interactive stories and games
Advanced artificial intelligence and awareness
Recognizes and talks to his own little toy panda (included)

Yes, that's right. It comes with its own little stuffed panda. In the video it hugs it. Christ, is that creepy.

Re:robopanda (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | more than 6 years ago | (#21619423)

Kids like it when their toys model some of their behavior, including having toys - just last month a friend of mine had to make a tiny, tiny owl plushie for her son's owl plushie!

Dinosaur robot overlords... (3, Funny)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615617)

Not terribly impressive. But maybe evolution will take care of that.

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21615679)

Robots aren't alive. For something to evolve it would need to be alive and have self-replicating abilities, ergo the ability to mutate. I'm not sure I understand what you're going for. Are you going for humor? If you are... then get some better newer material bitch. pwned... next please bitches!!

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (1)

CatLord42 (657659) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615789)

No, he means that as people evolve (and becomes dumber...), the pleo will seem even more impressive!

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21615829)

Well the robot does have a USB port and SD card slot. Plenty of room for "evolution" there.

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (1)

Script Cat (832717) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615983)

Oh! But the robot would not need to be destroyed and recreated of an evolution type algorithm to work. That screwed up limitation is only exhibited by biological life forms. Please see "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_algorithm" there is a vast growing field of unsupervised learning algorithms. The codes controlling the robots systems could be slightly altered in several versions then these versions tested and the best ones chosen combined and altered. Lather rinse repeat. They may even go so far as to start with the simplest systems then freeze those then build the more complex ones. This is cool if it's what I think it might be.

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (1)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616699)

"[Pleo] begins to learn at a geometric rate. It becomes self-aware at 2:14 a.m. Eastern time, August 29th. In a panic, they try to pull the plug."

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (1)

wolfman_jake (974273) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615917)

Actually, a giant meteorite will most likely take care of it. It may not make it more impressive, but it will leave a big impression.

NBC censors pro-troops Ads (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21615957)

NBC IS REFUSING TO RUN PRO-TROOPS ADS [powerlineblog.com] from Freedom's Watch, but you can see them at the link.

They told me that if George W. Bush were reelected we'd see a sort of soft fascism in which corporate media would freeze out views that were politically uncongenial. And they were right!

The ads are surprisingly benign and (one would think) non-controversial. They literally say "Thank You" to the troops and "Happy Holidays". Neither ad takes a pro- or anti-war stance, merely a "support the troops" position. Which is the position we are told both sides believe.

  "Freedom of speech: at some of our networks, you can't even buy it!"

Re:NBC censors pro-troops Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21617089)

Send a salami to the boy in the army!

Re:Dinosaur robot overlords... (1)

tsjaikdus (940791) | more than 6 years ago | (#21623021)

> Not terribly impressive. But maybe evolution will take care of that.

I hope you mean a giant astroid.

Pointless (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615665)

I'm all for the advancement of robotics and if that means reaching the general public through consumer devices as a means to an end, then so be it.

However, these "robots" that we keep seeing are entirely pointless and ridiculous. They tend to be at least $300 or $400 and they're nothing more than slightly beefed up versions of the little remote control robot you got under the christmas tree as a little kid that beeped and flashed lights. They do nothing useful, are glitchy and . . . talk about "uncanny valley".

The Pleo seems like something that is briefly amusing, but for $350 I could buy a couple Roombas and they actually perform a useful function other than looking cute.

Are we supposed to be impressed by a goofy looking dino robot, just because it can detect when another pleo is around it and it can sense when someone is petting it versus choking it? How can this even qualify as a "robot"? If you have money to burn and your child is likely to be suckered into the cheap gimmicks that form these types of robots, then I guess go for it. . . . I've seen the pleo in action and if the idea is that you buy one or two of these to substitute for pets, then . . . well - let's just say having a pleo for a pet is like having blow up doll for a girlfriend. Not that I know from personal experience.

Re:Pointless (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21616235)

having a pleo for a pet is like having blow up doll for a girlfriend. Not that I know from personal experience.
Of course you don't. You're on slashdot, it was already obvious you've never had a girlfriend.

Re:Pointless (1)

jpellino (202698) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616291)

Actually from recent feedback, the Roombas will be just the opposite of the Pleo - briefly useful then endlessly amusing (as you clean them, or try and get support, or watch it as you put the same piece of dirt down in front of it several times to make sure it gets picked up - actually I think that last one is from a standup routine that got laughs of recognition from the audience).

AIBOs have seen their day but they got a lot more people "ready" for robots and from my experience like LEGO and VEX got a lot of kids interested in doing something under the hood.

Re:Pointless (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616943)

The one problem that I see with all of these pet replacement toys is that they not one of them can recharge themselves. If you have to pick it up and plug it into the wall, it is still just a toy. The obvious solution is to give these toys a 'bed'. Then use wireless induction to recharge the batteries. Plenty of people have real pets that sleep most of the day, so if it takes 8 hours of charging for 1 hour of action, there wouldn't be a problem. Pets are actually a pretty good place to introduce robots to the household, but as long as we have to manually plug them in, they will be toys, and not pets.

Re:Pointless (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21619495)

Actualy, IIRC the Aibo recharged itself on a little mat that it would look for when the power got low. Pity Sony axed it... I'd rather have the Aibo division than all that money spent on rootkits and DRM.

Re:Pointless (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 6 years ago | (#21620525)

If it did find it's own mat for self charging, it is a shame that they did not advertise that. I have never heard of that feature, and have read reviews that complained that it didn't run very long before it had to be plugged in. A self charging feature could have made the difference on whether I would have considered buying one or not.

Re:Pointless (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 6 years ago | (#21622019)

I saw it in lots of reviews - the charging stick: http://www.mactech.com/articles/mactech/Vol.19/19.11/Toys/index.html [mactech.com]

"A recent product has been the AIBO Recognition stick which will allow AIBO to recharge itself when it needs power by going over to the charging station (sold separately) and sit down to charge. When AIBO is charged, it will get up and wander around as normal. The new ERS-7 robots are taking the AIBO concept further and include extra sensors (electro-static sensors that do not require pushing in), more LEDs, pattern recognition and the ability to pick up a small bone with its mouth."

Re:Pointless (1)

Tristanic (1118413) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616767)

I'm holding off until they come out with the pleasure model.

Re:Pointless (1)

tcolberg (998885) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617765)

A Pleo Pleasure Model???!! It doesn't even have hands! I don't know I could get down with a robotic dinosaur, let me know when it comes in "humanoid".

Exactly... (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617711)

Just so.

I'm so tired of these animatronic gizmos that are being called "robots".

Roomba is a robot. It does something useful.

A doll that can bleep, bloop or wiggle a bit when it hears a noise or bumps into something is not a robot.

None of this stuff seems much more impressive than the Big Trak ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigtrak [wikipedia.org] ) I had as a kid 30 years ago.

I am not impressed.

Best $350 box ever (2, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615779)

When all is said and done, your kid will have more fun playing with the box than the actual toy.

Re:Best $350 box ever (3, Funny)

BobNET (119675) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616049)

When all is said and done, your kid will have more fun playing with the box than the actual toy.

That's okay. The toy will also have more fun playing with the box than it will playing with your kid.

Re:Best $350 box ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21621231)

I always prefer playing with box.

Well... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615815)

Is it worth $350? I think this reviewer thinks so.

That at least provides some context to evaluate the claim that no one but lunatic fanboys will pay $400 for a Kindle because Amazon might go bankrupt some day.

That is the problem with robotics in general.... (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615927)

PRICE... lets give an example with something we can all relate to (except for the two girls who read /.) Lego. Even the older Lego is going to set you back $20 USD for a motor. 5 motors in a robot invention =~ $100 USD. For accurate and simplified control, it is likely that some kind of R/C hobby servo, or a derivative at cheaper cost is used. The price of that does not drop sharply over time due to volume purchases. A digital servo would double the costs roughly per motor. The parts to make cute little animal robots are NOT cheap, and I'm only talking about low end parts here. It amuses me at times to think that I have some simplistic robots at home (made of Lego) that if bought piece by piece, would cost on the order of about $450 ~ $500.

If you ask any robotics hobbyist, $350 USD for a completed and programmed robot.. well, that's a good price. I don't see the price point dropping much if you are going to have a really functional robotic toy thingy animal friend.

Warning: Some (well all) robotics hobbyists will value the store bought robotic toy on how useful it is once they get it home and disassemble it to use in their own creations. If it is a veritable horn of plenty of usable sensors and parts... yeah $350 is a great price. You may have to guide their scope on value in the conversation.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (4, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616155)

Well, the robotpanda is 150 dollars, which is less than half of the asking price of the pleo. The robopanda, like the rest of the toys from that company are pretty simplistic and fun. I think this design is a better idea than the pleo/aibo idea of a super complex computer driven "pet simulator" that costs a lot more than people are willing to spend on the gimmick.

I'd rather be able to buy a toy robot I can say "read me a bedtime story" than one that has realistic moods and realitic poops. I understand the popularity of the furby, but that was mostly to the toddler to pre-5th grade crowd. Not to mention the price point on the furby was pretty good too.

I think people want something that actually does something. If someone asks me what my pet robot does I cuold say "well he reads me a story if I ask. Or he reads me my email if I ask." Not "he simulates the moods of a biological pet." I think the tomogatchi school of robotics is pretty dead in the consumer world. The pleo is a nice gimmick, but thats all it is. At that price its a market failure from the get-go. I could get a roomba and a robopanda for that price.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 6 years ago | (#21621609)

I could get a roomba and a robopanda for that price.

Are you planning to breed them? Brings a new twist to an od phrase - "Hey you two, get a roomba!"

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (0, Troll)

welcher (850511) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616175)

(except for the two girls who read /.)

What? is that supposed to be funny? More like stupid and sexist. Grow up.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (3, Funny)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616243)

No, silly woman, I was fishing for a "you insensitive clod" comment... you must be new here

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

Provocateur (133110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618271)

Now to locate and ident the second girl who reads slashdot...Dude. where's my pleo?

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

ScrappyLaptop (733753) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616447)

You insensitive clod, my father was stupid and sexist!

(sorry...couldn't resist)

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (3, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616565)

But compared to the cost of owning a real pet, a $350 one time fee isn't bad at all.

We just bought a rabbit, and in the first year of ownership I'm sure we'll spend more than $350. We got out of the pet store for ~$100 with a cage and a starter kit, then spent about another ~$100 on a couple months worth of bedding, food and treats. When you add on the the ~$150 we'll have to spend to neuter the thing, we're already at the price of the Pleo for less than a year of about the easiest-to-care for cuddleable pet you can get.

Even the Pleo won't be quite the same as a rabbit, but the Pleo won't pee under the piano. At least, the Pleo 1.0 won't pee under the piano.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617337)

Why do you want to neuter 1 rabbit ? Is there a local risk of rampant feral rabbits impregnating your pet ?
BTW, rabbits don't generally like being "cuddled", so you had better get its front teeth and rear claws removed too.
Some people should only be allowed robots, they don't know enough about real animals.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618101)

Why do you want to neuter 1 rabbit ? Is there a local risk of rampant feral rabbits impregnating your pet ?
While I doubt our rabbit will be impregnating any of the local feral rabbit population, (and doubt even more that he'll become impregnated, since, you know, he's a dude) neutered rabbits won't mark their territory (AKA pee all over everything), are less likely to chew destructively, are generally more pleasant, and are likely to live longer. See the rabbit faq [rabbit.org].

BTW, rabbits don't generally like being "cuddled", so you had better get its front teeth and rear claws removed too.
As for the cuddling, I can only speak from personal experience. If we ignore our rabbit for too long while he's hopping around the living room, he'll jump up on one of our laps and nuzzle a hand until we scratch him. Though I'd be the first to admit that our rabbit is totally nuts and not likely to be a good representation of the general population.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617633)

Hell, my wifes guppies have probably cost me nearly a grand over the last three years - between two tank upgrades, filter and pump upgrades, not to mention consumables. But they make her happy, so it's money well spent. (Not to mention I can hardly complain given what I spend on my hobbies.)

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

Deagol (323173) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617751)

Find a local farm/ranch/feed store. A 50-pound bag of rabbit feed will set you back $10, and maybe the same cost for a 6 cubic feet of compressed shavings. That $20 should last the typical pet rabbit for 6 months or more, assuming your treats are veggie scraps from the kitchen. A goat-sized salt and/or mineral lick (couple of pounds, I think) will cost a couple of bucks and be a much better bargain than those little ones at Pet Smart. A ~75-pound bale of grass or alfalfa hay will be $10 (+/- $5 depending on season and location), and is good to give rabbits to provide coarse roughage for "wool block" prevention.

We occasionally raise rabbits for food, so I'm somewhat familiar with the economics.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21620795)

Dude! Congrats on the new bunny! As much as I love robots, and I do, rabbits are much more entertaining to date although Wowwee's Roboquad is really cool.

I don't know what you know about rabbits but there are many misconceptions about them.

First one great fact is that your rabbit can be litter trained! Our rabbit Dasher was trained only to use a litter box when we got him from the shelter.

http://www.rabbit.org/faq/sections/litter.html [rabbit.org]

Cedar bedding is bad for your bunny! Fill his litter box with news paper, shredded newspaper mulch and, hay!

Don't keep your rabbit in a tiny wire cage! The wire bottom hurts their feet!

Rabbits like a lot of space! If you make a condo for your bunny he will be so happy!!
http://rabbitcondo.com/ [rabbitcondo.com]
http://www.rabbitnetwork.org/articles/NIC.shtml [rabbitnetwork.org]

Over time you can get the bunny comfortable enough that you can hold them.

Hay is the best thing for your bunny (and they love it!!) you can't feed them too much hay. (Oxbow Timothy Hay is the best!) Everything else needs to be fed in moderation. In fact many foods that you might think are good for bunnies are actually bad for their health.

www.busybunny.com has a lot of special untreated wicker chews that bunnies really love.

Untreated grass mats that can be found at World Market are great to put on the floor of any bunny condo or anywhere a bunny decides he wants to digg (your wifes brand new carpet).

Bunnies can spray pee if you don't get them fixed! Wow. We only witnessed this once with Dash when he was near a female bunny he had a crush on.

Man, I shouldn't surf the Slash when I'm drinking!

Cheers.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

ucblockhead (63650) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616587)

It's a huge move in the right direction. The Aibo failed on the market place despite its appeal because it was $3500.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618013)

Well, the new lego robotics kit is around $200-$250.

Re:That is the problem with robotics in general... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618155)

Go buy one, and build something that has five motors in it..... That price tag is the entry fee, not the cost of a final robotic creation that has five motors in it.

Pleo Review - A Toy Robot Triumph? (5, Funny)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 6 years ago | (#21615939)

A robot trumph? So, what you're trying to say is...

This was a triumph.

I'm making a note here: huge success.

I really can't express my satisfaction.

Re: Pleo Review - A Toy Robot Triumph? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21616095)

> A robot trumph? So, what you're trying to say is...
>
> This was a triumph.
> I'm making a note here: huge success.
> I really can't express my satisfaction.

THE TRAINING LEAF IS A LIE!

Re: Pleo Review - A Toy Robot Triumph? (1)

pcgabe (712924) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616977)

I'm not even angry.

I'm being so sincere right now.~

(~ [slashdot.org])

Re: Pleo Review - A Toy Robot Triumph? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617759)

State and local statutory regulations prohibit your robotic companion pet from simply remaining here, alone and companionless. You must euthanize it.

Yawn (1)

technopinion (469686) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616085)

While it's cute and kinda cool and all, wake me when they make one that can plug itself into the wall to recharge.

Re:Yawn (1)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617001)

iRobot make an "iRobot Create" robot variant of their Roomba robo-vacuum-cleaner that can do that. As I understand it it's basically the same platform/capabilities as the Roomba except that it has a control interface and doesn't do the vacccum thing. The self-charge capability certainly makes it pretty unique and attractive for an always-on home robot (toy or research or anywhere inbetween).

http://www.irobot.com/sp.cfm?pageid=289 [irobot.com]

$350 toy? (-1, Flamebait)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616351)

$350 would sustain a family in sub-Saharan Africa for 3 years...

But go ahead, buy your toy...

Re:$350 toy? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616399)

How will they survive for 3 years on $50 ?

(I ask because obviously the first thing they would do with $300 is buy the kids XO laptops.)

Re:$350 toy? (1)

Chicken04GTO (957041) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616491)

so they can have more kids and then in 20 years from now you have 10 families to support, WOOT

Re:$350 toy? (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617137)

"so they can have more kids and then in 20 years from now you have 10 families to support, WOOT"

It's quaint to see there are still people supporting the caste system. I bet you think monarchies are just SUPER!

Re:$350 toy? (1)

AndOne (815855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618507)

"Bow before me peasent!" This has been a test of the emergency monarch system... if this were actually a monarchy you would already be wretched.

Re:$350 toy? (2, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 6 years ago | (#21620049)

Actually, the GP was spot on. Africa needs political stability and economic development, not handouts from the west. We pat ourselves on the back for saving lives through food and medical aid, yet all we end up doing is increasing the population beyond the environment's sustainable capacity, condemning more people to suffer, fighting over and wasting the same limited resources.

The reason few in power care about a real solution is that a stone-age economy hardly competes for resources with industrialized nations, and a broken society is easy to exploit. It's easy to see how governments and corporations would rather maintain the status quo, keeping oil and labor cheap, than invest in a new competitive market.

What we really need is World Bank [wikipedia.org] reform; it was created after World War II for the exact purpose of nation-building and reconstruction. Unfortunately, it's swayed into the hands of the increasingly exploitative US government as well as large corporations, and has lost a great deal of credibility worldwide. A revived World Bank system, with more focus on its key objectives and less control by individual nations and big business, could do far more to heal Africa and other poor regions than the band-aids of food and medicine.

Anyway, what was the topic of this thread again?

Re:$350 toy? (2, Insightful)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616605)

$350 sent to sub-Saharan Africa would wind up in the hands of a warlord who would then buy another AK-47 with which to kill a family sometime in the next 3 years.

        Brett

May as well mod this "pissy" (1)

StefanJ (88986) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616621)

Last month, I gave $100 each to the local food bank, America's Second Harvest, Heifer Project International (grants livestock to families in 3rd world countries), to name just the charities that deal with hunger issues. All told, I think I laid out $1,800 to charities and alumni organizations.

And I ran the office food drive this year; we brought in 1,230 lbs. of food.

And put $100 worth of toys in the office toy drive bin. I'm running that, too.

And I went in for a couple of those "Buy One, Give One" deals from the One Laptop Per Child folks.

I still have enough money left over to buy a toy robot, if I had a mind too. Or am I obligated to donate that too?

Re:May as well mod this "pissy" (1)

InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617309)

I would donate the minimum necessary to maintain the present group and invest the rest so there's more to donate later (when you'll need to donate more).

Re:$350 toy? (5, Funny)

SpinyNorman (33776) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616859)

$350 would sustain a family in sub-Saharan Africa for 3 years...

Not if they chose to blow it all at once on a Pleo.

But does it run linux? (3, Informative)

adwarf (1002867) | more than 6 years ago | (#21616553)

It doesn't seem like their development kit (which I can't even find an official reference to on their website) can do much. That makes it useless to people that want to do more than play with it until someone finds a way to crack it to run custom code.

Re:But does it run linux? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21618515)

It never ceases to amaze me how sort sighted and narrow minded the slashdot crowd can be. Without ever seeing one , playing with one, reading about one, or learning anything about the company, the software, the hardware, or the goals behind it, these amazing prognosticators pronounce it 'Yet another stupid, overpriced toy'. It boggles the mind.

Their 'development kit' ( well at least SOMEBODY read a little about them ) is an off the shelf scripting language where you can create new behaviors or modify existing ones that includes access to the library of basic drives and responses. It is designed to be simple enough to be accessible to novice programmers, and the creators hope to be able to produce a more robust one in the future for real programmers and robot junkies. However, it's completely irrelevant whether it runs Linux. The primary processors are standard ARM's, so you can throw out the whole thing and start over if you want. You dont have to defeat any security, you dont have to hack anything... and they did that on purpose.

However, there is a lot more packed into that little plastic and neoprene body. They have created a 'toy' that interacts with the world ( not just you ) based on a volatile set of conflicting drives, states and stimuli that is user extendable and modifiable. Within a generation or two, there is the very real possibility of genuine emergent behaviors. If you don't like their software, it is driven by two ARM processors so you can replace it with whatever you like. Does it have staying power as a childs toy... honestly, yes, I think it does. Once you play with one, you realize that while you will never mistake it for a 'real' dinosaur, it is credible enough that even adults can easily become attached to it - which means for most kids it would be a slam dunk.

This is the second step on a ( very long ) road to credible and natural interactions with machines. You wouldn't spend $400 on a childs toy? Okay, great - don't. I'm certainly not buying one for a child - but I am buying one, and I'll bet dimes to dollars the kids have a blast with it. Pleo is definitely something new under the sun. He's not a souped up Teddy Ruxpin, or a glorified remote control car, or even anything more than distantly related to a TMX or Robosapien. He is the first in what I sincerely hope is a long line of 'lifeforms' from Ugobe, and the first of an entirely new class of toy - one that can alter it's behavior. While that may not be worth $400 ( $350 ) to you, or as a present for your child, do not for a moment presume that this little guy isn't worth every dime- for both what he is, and what will come after him.

Re:But does it run linux? (1)

Atacama93 (415662) | more than 6 years ago | (#21620229)

Best info I could find quickly was an interview [robotsrule.com] at robotsrule.com with John Sosoka, CTO of Ugobe. Here's a couple of the more relevant quotes:

"Pleo does have his USB port and an SD card to allow Pleo to be updated."

"In order to play with voice recognition you have to write it in C or assembly code. While possible, it won't be supported by the PDK tools at first, although we won't do anything to stop you. We want to get the controls in to let people to quickly be able to play with the sensors and motors, and things like that. Over time we will create better tools for people to do lower level things with Pleo."

"People will have brilliant ideas of what to do. We will allow them to implement them. We want to see what can be done."

"We actually started with some proprietary software at first and one of the reasons I wanted to make the switch was to allow programmers to just get gcc and some other tools and you're good to go. You can run gcc and just start working your way through it."

"In terms of Pleo's internal memory, the main memory in Pleo is 4 megabytes. I think Pleo is in the 50 Megahertz range for the main processor and 64 Megahertz for the processor in the back."

I'll wait (1)

kilodelta (843627) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617063)

Until the robot gets marked down because you know it will. Once it's around $100 or so I'll buy it then tear it apart to see what makes it tick, then make my own enhancements. Should be interesting since I'm in the process of taking a cheap little robotic dog and enhancing it with an Arduino doing the heavy lifting.

Pleo torture video (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 6 years ago | (#21617317)

In case you haven't seen it already, the other day boingboing had a link to a Pleo torture video [boingboing.net]. It's actually somewhat disturbing, as the little robot dinosaur seems to make whimpering noises if you dangle it by its tail, and choking noises if you grab its neck. I found this quote from boingboing quite interesting:

So when I watched this video of a couple of guys from Dvice torturing the Pleo and making it whimper pathetically, I felt uncomfortable, even though I knew it was absolutely ridiculous to feel that way.

My wife didn't want to watch the video. She said that even though the Pleo was incapable of feeling anything, watching the video is "bad for your psyche," and that the people who hit the Pleo were damaging their pscyhes, too.
I concur with one of the comments on dVice, that I'm rather in disbelief that the guys who made the video work for the SciFi channel, and yet passed up on an opportunity while choking the Pleo to say, "If this is a consular ship, then where is the ambassador?"

Put the innards in a Real Doll? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21617365)

Perhaps this can be scaled up so that it can fit inside of a Real Doll [realdoll.com]. Imagine, a woman you can train to be your companion.

OTOH, from TFA, "....the robot did in fact calm down and was soon walking slowly around my office and (later) my home and crying out for food or attention." I hope it also comes with an off switch.

I like pleo (2, Interesting)

AndOne (815855) | more than 6 years ago | (#21618331)

My girlfriend got one of the Pleo preorders and I have to say I'm quite amused by it. The fact that it has an SD slot so you can load your own programs onto it and a usb cable for firmware updates really appeals to the geek in me. Honestly I'm looking forward to the proposed updates for pleo and to getting to play with its SDK. Sure it's gimmicky but it's alot of robot parts and it's cute to boot. It's also pretty fun to watch the thing walk around and explore.

To the 'is it useful' crowd... well it's an interesting testbed to work on navigation algorithms for robots that could do 'useful' things and it can encourage kids to get involved in both robotics and programming. Have some goddamn imagination and joy in life... not everything has to be economically viable or solve a problem...

How about a RoboCat? (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 6 years ago | (#21620013)

Personally, I think the ttechnical aspects of the Pleo might be almost enough to create an adequate robotic cat. Granted it won't be jumping on random surfaces, but there's little reason one couldn't sleep, sit, stand, bathe, knead surfaces, scratch, stare, swat at stuff, meow and purr. Such a thing would be ideal for pet therapy applications without the drawbacks of shedding, using a litter box or feeding.

There was a previous attempt at this in Japan about a decade ago called "NeCoRo", but it was one of those things that fell into "uncanny valley" territory and kind of resembled a freeze-dried cat with a motorized armature stuffed inside it.

Best line in the article ... (1)

Phantasmagoria (1595) | more than 6 years ago | (#21621245)

"I remember how Sony's AIBO robot dog could actually hunt for its charging station when it was running out of power. On the other hand, it was often too far from the base to make it and ended up temporarily dead on the kitchen floor."
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