Sony Halts Robot Production

Sony has announced major changes to its robotics and artificial intelligence operations, which will no longer include the humanoid robot QRIO.

Sony made the announcement as part of a financial presentation covering the third quarter, ending Dec. 31, 2005, of its 2005 fiscal year. The report said Sony had already stopped production of its AIBO robotic dog, though customer support would continue, and added there would be no new development for QRIO, the diminutive robot who received mainstream media coverage for its abilities to brace itself when falling, then get back onto its feet. The robot could also climb steps and other uneven terrain, and communicate by speaking, exhibiting body language and using colored lights.

The manufacturer's artificial intelligence work would continue to be applied in Sony's consumer electronics offerings, the report added.

Unlike robots and artificial intelligence developed in healthcare fields, QRIO was touted by Sony as a live-in "entertainment robot." But some of QRIO's abilities -- a promotional Sony film said, "QRIO can recognize faces and voices and can carry on conversation" and "QRIO can gather information and moves around on its own accord" -- appeared to be of possible use if QRIO ever sought work as a caregiving aide.

Sony had claimed, "Even among robots, QRIO's capabilities are unique." For now, at least, those capabilities are not enough to keep QRIO in development.

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