Robokoneko Set to Prowl

Back to Contents of Issue: November 2000

'Robokoneko' learns tricks thanks to an artificial brain ATR Labs in Kyoto.

by Chieko Tashiro

RobokonekoSINCE 1992, HUGO DE GARIS and his team at the Kyoto-based Advanced Telecommunications Research Lab have been working on creating artificial brain machines, with computer neurons in place of the good old fashioned human variety. Lost already? de Garis anticipated that. Hence the lovable kitty pictured, designed to demonstrate in terms anyone can understand how this stuff might be good. Say hi to Robokoneko, designed by Colorado-based Genobyte for the ATR Lab, which houses the world's first -- albeit still-in-progress -- artificial brain machine. The smaller pictures show just one of the tricks this feline will be able to learn once its new brain is in place and operational. "People will be able to take one look at this robot and know there's a brain behind it," says de Garis. Indeed, Sony's mechanical mutt Aibo will look pretty stupid once this cat is out of the bag, but that could be a while -- two years, says de Garis. Of course, the schedule is flex -- two years ago he was saying it'd be ready by 2001. Hey, brain building ain't easy: ATR's finished product will house billions of neurons and be faster -- though not smarter, we hope -- than a human brain.


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