Stanford University Graduate Engineering Students
Host Bay Area AIBO Gathering, May, 2001

by SFRSA Mediamister Cliff Thompson


As 10am approached at Stanford's Tressider building, folks began arriving  with their various models & colors of AIBO pets. Warmly greeted by meeting host graduate engineering students Kim Champion, & team members James Prince, Leng Lim & Hiro Iwanami, attendees eyed a sumptuous buffet table while breaking out their merry metal mascots. 

In attendance were Mechanical Engineering Department Faculty Professors Ken Waldron (world renowned roboticist famous for his original work in multi-legged walkers, shown reading SFRSA Mediameister Cliff Thompson's METREON AIBO Club proposal), Kosuke (Kos) Ishii, (Director, Manufacturing Modeling Lab, whose annual Sony-funded Engineering projects provided Kim & her team their current AIBO assignment (me217:design for Manufacturability) ), Sony staffer Stanford Mechanical Engineering Graduate PhD Hirokazu Shibata & robotics-oriented company ASYST Technologies, Inc Chairman & CEO Mihir Parikh were also in attendance, as  were AIBO owners Mihir's son Mikhael Parikh, Craig Howell, Ed Katz, Richard Vaughan, Suzanne Garner, Joe Barnhart, Francis Andry, Denis Amselen, Frank Jenkins, Arcane & Xo.

At Kim's suggestion I had brought & distributed copies of my "Combined Groups AIBO-Club-at-the-METREON" proposal & informed folks of the upcoming ClubAIBO announcement scheduled the day before of the AIBO 2nd Anniv. event. I also announced new Aibo software titles "Navigator" & "Messenger". Meanwhile the robo-canine pack had increased to 9. They amused themselves variously batting balls, chasing a pink pig, performing animated interactive infrared communications, engaging in AIBO SUMO & trying to grok a red Xmas ribbon perhaps perceiving more along it quantum wave function aspect (bounded yet non-local!). 

A raucous video taken at  the previous weekend's LA AIBO meeting highlighted a synchronous dancing AIBO chorus line driven by routines called "Disco AIBO 3.0" . The routine is available on the AiboHack site . Following the video, the meeting was thrown open for the AIBO Engineering project discussion & feedback. Kim's team talked about their project initiatives, which included diagrams showing various scaleable modular configurations. Attendee's wish list suggestions included improved pattern recognition, self-charging, and reading email, with one wag in the group suggesting, "I'd like it to write my email".

As the meeting wrapped up Prof. Kos noted he'd email us an invite to an upcoming Stanford Engineering Open House July 7 which would include the Engineering Team's AIBO project report. As the meeting came to a close, I talked with Kim about the future of the group & meeting. She said she hoped it would continue & was very receptive to my idea of continuing on with an AIBO Club at the METREON, so I confirmed I would follow-up with that plan, to meet monthly at the METREON, make it easier for Sony ERA AIBO VP Takeshi to give one talk to one combined group there & try to synchronize the launching of the new club with the AIBO 2nd Anniv. celebration, which would make for a most auspicious launch!.

It was amazing to see so many AIBO's interacting together, a small herd of Artificially Intelligent Artificial Life Forms flexing their Neural Nets, executing Genetic Algorithms & growing smarter right before your eyes. In the AIBO version of the movie "The Matrix", one wonders what impish tricks they will devise to taunt their human companions.