Robotics enthusiast forced to pull Aibo-altering code

Sony has forced the removal of programs that changed the behaviour of its Aibo robot, such as giving it the power to dance along to music
Written by Graeme Wearden, Contributor

Sony has forced a programmer to remove code from his Web site that changed the behaviour of its Aibo robot dog.

According to a report in New Scientist, the programs gave Aibo new functionality. One, called DiscoAibo, made the robotic canine dance to music.

Sony protested, claiming that the applications used proprietary and encrypted code. The Japanese company demanded the removal of the programs, along with details of Aibo's software protection. The anonymous enthusiast has now complied, but insists that he never published any specific details of how to break the security of Aibo's memory stick -- which stores the programs that define Aibo's behaviour.

New Scientist reports that some figures in the robotics community are unhappy that Sony clamped down on efforts to customise Aibo. They believe that the Aibo-hacking community would have benefited from knowing how to successfully modify the dog's behaviour.

Sony launched the original Aibo robot dog in 1999, and sold over 45,000 models. An updated, and cheaper, version hit Japanese shops in November 2000.

Two new models were launched this autumn. Latte and Macaron are described as "cute, cuddly and intelligent," and Sony has predicted they will appear on many Christmas present lists this December.

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