You may remember that we’ve previously featured Pleo in which we explained that he’s an autonomous, newly hatched herbivore dinosaur called a Camarasaurus – essentially a robot dinosaur that will wander around exploring and reacting to its environment – it’s fair to say I was initally a little sceptical about Pleo the Robotic Dinosaur.
In the past I’ve had a play with some of the previous robotic dinosaurs that have been on the market, such as the RoboRaptor which to be honest has never really impressed me as anything other than a short-lived novelty which I certainly soon got bored with…the question is whether the same can be said about Pleo, I’m pleased to say that there’s certainly a lot more to Pleo as a robot dinosaur than previous attempts at bringing back these long dead creatures in a robotic form.
The first thing you notice about Pleo is the fact that he doesn’t just look like a load of metal and plastic put together in the shape of a dinosaur – Pleo has a textured, coloured rubbery skin which not only adds a certain amount of realism, but also helps to hide all his “bits” in terms of motors and sensors.
When you first switch him on you’ll find that he goes through a “Birthing Stage” whereby he’s quiet and just remains fairly stationary — you can speed up progress through this stage by interacting with him by stroking his back and either the top of his head or under his chin.
He then moves onto the “Hatchling Stage” in which he will start to wander around exploring, sometimes making noises, requiring you to feed him with he specially provided leaf and having the occasional nap as all infants need from time to time.
Pleo will ultimately reach the “Juvenile Stage” in which he has access to a full range of actions, noises and movement.
Pleo comes with two custom rechargeable batteries, a full charge can take up to 3 hours, which means one can be on charge while you’re playing with him or just leaving him to roam around by himself, although a fully charged battery may only last around an hour in use.
Also to further extend the life of your Pleo experience and provide some variety, you can download various official updates onto Pleo using the USB or built-in SD card slot which can provide different ‘personalities’ for your Pleo so that he will do a different range of actions.
Overall, I’ve been very impressed by Pleo the Robot Dinosaur, finally a robotic dinosaur toy that is not just a novelty, but one that is a great autonomous robotic creation which does quite well at mimicking a certain amount of personality and conveys much more than previous ‘robotic toys’ ever have realism in terms of movement, appearance and actions. It does make you start wondering about the question of “What is Artificial Intelligence?“.
There’s quite a premium price right now on Pleo’s head (so to speak), however it has already dropped from the initial £250 price to a more reasonable £170 and at this price it makes a great toy for anyone who likes robotic technology or wants a decent artificial pet!
Features and Specifications:
* Pleo uses a camera-based vision system to sense it’s way around by light
* 8 touch sensors are available in his head, chin, shoulders, back and one in each of it’s 4 feet.
* 2 microphones let Pleo hear from both sides of his head
* 14 force feedback sensors are found (one on each joint)
* tilt sensor (Pleo gets angry when you flip him over)
* Mouth sensor for detecting when he has something in there
* Mini USB port can be used to download new personalities
* An SD card slot is also used for ad-ons
* IR transmitters for use with 2 Pleo’s to communicate with each other