Sanyo and Tmsuk have plans to release the first robot guard dog in 2003. This device performs a number of functions that the two companies are banking will be important to the market they plan on selling it to. There is no word yet on price range, but it is sure that we will keep you updated with anything we find out. They call this home-robot Banryu, based off a previous design, this version is more sophisticated in its range of abilities. Think of it as a giant Aibo who is here to perform a actual function in your home. While we have seen devices such as the Roomba that perform a useful function in the home, this is the first robot to be modeled after a living version and be actually useful.
The word Banryu means “guard-dragon” instead of what we commonly associate guard animals to be. I think this is a good decision on their part because it will allow the customers to think of it more as a robot and less as a dog. They plan to market Banryu in two stages. The first will be a limited trail of only about 50. Depending on the results of the market test they will roll out the first commercially available Banryu’s late 2003. If you want to be one of the lucky few you should head over to the Banryu web site (http://www.banryu.jp).
|Product||Quadruped (4-legged) Utility Robot|
|Dimensions (Length x Width x Height)||1000mm x 800mm x 700mm|
|Weight||Approximately 40 kg|
|Walking Speed||Speed per minute 15 meters|
|Walking Function||Flat Surface + Gaps up to 150 mm|
|Sensor||* Infra-red Sensor
* Sonic Sensor
* Temperature Sensor
* Odor Sensor
|Mode||* Super-Remote Control Mode
* Guard Dragon Mode
* Pet Mode
|Remote Operation Controller||PHS with MPEG4 real-time transmission capability|
Unfortunately it is not clear how this device is supposed to deter thieves who enter or plan on entering your house. It would be a simple thing to add speakers to it allowing it to project the sound of an actual dog barking. This would be recorded most likely. A customer should be able to choose if not change the recording that is played, that way a person who prefers the sound of a german sheppard is not going to be disappointed to have to listen to a beagle. They have a challenge ahead of them if they want to use Banryu as a preventive deterrent against crime. A lot is riding on the performance of the sonic sensor. An easy way to work around the difference in performance of a dog’s ears and Banryu’s “sonic sensor” is to allow it the ability to respond to sensors located outside itself.
It is clear that one big advantage that this digital version of has over the living model is its ability to interface with current technology in order to contact those who will help in the need of an emergency. Sanyo and Tmsuk should have thought about partnering themselves with a company such as ADT. Now think about the possibilities for a minute.
Faithful Banryu detects, what he is programming to think of as an intruder, and the recording of a dog running through a house is played in addition to an occasional bark, followed by more barking as Banryu reaches the nearest location in the house where the sound originated from. Using a locally secure wireless connection (assuming such a thing exists) Banryu connects to the ADT computers with a notification of a possible break in. The connection is kept live until the issue is resolved or a certain time period passes without any further intruders. That way if the little dragon stops responding because it is destroyed than ADT will know that they should send the authorities to drive by, and pretend like they care.
It would be wicked if it could open its mouth and spit fire at the intruder! Who knows what mod’s we will see as a result of this being released.
The other two sensors make sense also. If Banryu detects what might turn into a fire using his odor sensor than he can start barking to notify the owner if they are available, otherwise he could contact ADT and let them know that a possible fire is about to occur and no one is home. Using the temperature sensor Banryu could verify that the fire has started and act accordingly, making sure to run away from the fire so as not to melt his expensive ass.
Banryu is not a pet robot dog meant for children, similar to the cheaper versions of Aibo that have been released. It is clear that they plan on selling it with a play mode where it will be able to interact with its owners. I think it is important that they make the distinction between a toy and a pet.
The whole point of a pet is the interaction, the caring, the relationship. Except fish — fish, I just don’t get. But a dog. There’s something sacred about a dog. About scratching it behind the ears, watching it chase across the park things only it can see and dig at random spots of soft earth whose meaning only it can fathom. Sit down after a long day to watch a sunset with a golden retriever, say, and ponder your tiny place in the universe. The only certainty you’ll come away with is that the dog has the answer and would cheerfully jot it down for you, if only it had thumbs.
– Brian McDonough
No artificial creation (metal and plastic) will be able to fully replace the entire range of experiences that are available with every breed of dog that can be made. We know that much to be true. I think Sony has found out that if you plan on replacing the affection and caring that are normally associated with a living version than you better price it as a toy instead of as expensive entertainment. Their pricing model reflects the entertainment option and from what I have seen people treat it as thus. A lot of the value came from tricks that it could do in addition to interaction.
For one thing, AIBO can actually walk. The four-legged creature can respond to voice commands to sit, stand, or lie down. The pooch learns from experience and can express various “emotions,” such as anger, sadness, and happiness. AIBO has autonomous and remote-control modes, where it can act upon its own, preprogrammed impulses, such as playing, attention-seeking, or sleeping, or it can respond to the owner’s desires. The robot has sensors so it can respond to colors and obstacles. At times the AIBO can lift one of its hind legs and make a tinkling sound just like a real male dog does when he is peeing. (Of course no liquid of any kind comes out of AIBO when it does that.) There are a few things that AIBO can do that a real dog would find too difficult to even try. For one thing, AIBO can take one of its front legs and wave it in the same way that people would wave their arms to say “hello.” In addition, when AIBO yawns, it will stretch its two front legs in the same way that a person will stretch his or her arms when yawning.
– Mike Stark
Above are some of the things that AIBO can do to give you an idea of what robotic dogs are capable of. Banryu should not be marketed as entertainment. Such activities as “playing”, “sleeping” and other “preprogrammed impulses” should be demphasized in favor of concentrating on the functionality. The guard dragon should be marketed as an important element in your home security system, not as the next best thing in robotic dog entertainment. They will find a much better response for an item such as this.
In conclusion, if you are a fan of robotics or you enjoy programming electronic components to do certain things than this device might be right for you. More likely you are concerned about your dogs ability to protect your home and want to augment your security system so as to further protect against theft and destruction of your personal belongings. Banryu is not here to replace your dog or your fire dectector or your security system, rather it is here to bring together a collection of those things into a marketable device.