Pleo rb: A dead cute baby dinosaur

The Pleo rb is a versatile toy robot. It needs food and attention, like any real pet.

The PLEO rb is a pet dinosaur that resembles a baby Camarasaurus dinosaur. The “rb” in the name of the robot is an abbreviation for “reborn”. The PLEO rb is not manufactured after the real dinosaurs size, shape and behaviour. This comes in handy because the Camarasaurus was a genus of large herbivore dinosaurs with impressive lengths between 15 and 23 meter. In comparison, the PLEO rb has the compact size of a cat. It is covered with a soft coat, has large expressive eyes and likes to be cuddled just like a pet.

Using the Robot in the HRI-lab

The PLEO rb is used in human-robot interactions to present robots more likeable. The PLEO rb is a really approachable robot. It can also be used to study the reactions of humans towards robots. In an experiment, the PLEO rb was used to study gender differences in attitudes towards robots. In such experiments, the robot is used because of its features. Firstly due to its looks and secondly because of its sensors. The PLEO rb is not perceived as a machine or robot in the experiments but as a being with needs and emotions. 

A Pleo robot has large, expressive and movable eyes.

It has  large expressive eyes and movable eyelids.

The aim of the aforementioned gender study was to find out, whether women show more emotion and affection around the robot in comparison to men. Pleo was the perfect robot for this experiment since it resembles a baby dinosaur. It can react to different stimuli around it, such as touch, pain, brightness or darkness. It is also able to show when it is scared, happy, sad or even hungry. It can learn how to walk, or even dance, it can learn that its name is Pleo and it is able to establish a communication with other Pleo robots as well. 

Its behaviour is realistic to that extent that sometimes it is hard to believe that it is just a machine and not a being with needs and emotions.

Interaction with Humans

The toy robot PLEO rb is perfectly suited for human interaction. Its charming appearance, its pleasant haptics and its doe-eyed look help the robot to quickly establish an emotional connection to humans.  The robot cannot speak, but it displays such sophisticated behavioural patterns that you can interact with it like with a real pet.

A Pleo robot who enjoys human affection.

The robot enjoys being cuddled. It actively requests a certain amount of petting.

A Pleo robot comfortably stretching his body.

Pleo rb offers a wide variety of behaviour patterns. Here it comfortably stretches its body.

If you switch it on, it will realistically awake and move around clumsy before actively requesting attention from human bystanders.  If you, for example, touch a PLEO rb, it will cuddle against your hand. It furthermore masters a rich variety of sounds for expressing emotions like comfort, hunger, pleasure or fear. If you neglect it or if it is hungry, it will even start to cry like a baby. Needless to say that it can be fed with special plastic leaves to fill its empty stomach if needed. All in all the PLEO rb is a toy robot that is quite good in pretending that it is not a robot and makes the users feel engaged with the robot.

A Pleo robot craving for attention.

Pleo rb will actively try to get human attention after being ignored for a certain amount of time.

Robot Hardware

The PLEO rb is a robot with various features. It has a camera-based vision system that can be used for light detection and navigation. The camera can detect colours, patterns, and even steps and edges, which prevents the robot from falling from tables. Two microphones enable binaural hearing, the robot can turn its head when you speak to it. An integrated beat detection enables the robot to dance and to react to music. With 12 touch sensors on the head, chin, shoulders, back and feet the PLEO rb can detect touches very well.  It has touch sensors on its feet, too.

All in all 14 different joints enable the robot to perform natural motion sequences. Each joint is equipped with force-feedback sensors which support realistic movements and adaptations of the PLEO rb to its surroundings. An orientation tilt sensor informs the controlling unit about the body orientation of the robot. Several infrared modules provide an infrared detection for objects that the robot has in its mouth. Infrared communication with other robots and an infrared detection for external objects is also possible.

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