Search Images Maps Play YouTube News Gmail Drive More »
Sign in
Screen reader users: click this link for accessible mode. Accessible mode has the same essential features but works better with your reader.

Patents

  1. Advanced Patent Search
Publication numberUS20020098879 A1
Publication typeApplication
Application numberUS 09/802,960
Publication dateJul 25, 2002
Filing dateMar 12, 2001
Priority dateJan 19, 2001
Publication number09802960, 802960, US 2002/0098879 A1, US 2002/098879 A1, US 20020098879 A1, US 20020098879A1, US 2002098879 A1, US 2002098879A1, US-A1-20020098879, US-A1-2002098879, US2002/0098879A1, US2002/098879A1, US20020098879 A1, US20020098879A1, US2002098879 A1, US2002098879A1
InventorsJin Rheey
Original AssigneeRheey Jin Sung
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Intelligent pet robot
US 20020098879 A1
Abstract
The subject invention relates to an intelligent pet robot equipped with an electric motor which enables the pet robot to move. The pet robot, equipped further with infrared ray generators and sensors, not only can evade obstacles when it moves, but also can follow a racing track laid by a user. The pet robot, further comprising a sound sensing part, can receive sounds from a user. Since the user's sound includes clapping of the hands, the user can give instructions to the pet robot by clapping his hands as well. The pet robot comprises further a mode setting part which allows setting of a specific operation mode among various operation modes of the pet robot. In addition to the Basic mode, the operation modes may include Racing mode, Escape mode, Sing-and-run mode, Sumo-wrestling mode, and so on. Since the pet robot is endowed with a gender, either a male or a female, it is also capable of dating with other pet robot under certain conditions. Restrictions in respect to the power reserve, age, etc of the pet robots may serve as prerequisites for a particular operation mode. The pet robot may further be equipped with an interface for data communication which enables the pet robot to connect to a server on the Internet, to download data, game programs, music, etc., and to recognize the gender of a partner before it proceeds to a dating with the partner
Images(12)
Previous page
Next page
Claims(20)
What is claimed is:
1. A pet robot comprising
a motor driving part for forward/backward and left/right turn movements,
infrared ray generators and sensors for sensing objects,
a sound sensing part for sensing sound,
a mode setting part for setting the operation mode;
a memory for storing programs and data,
and a control part for controlling said motor driving part, said infrared ray generators and sensors, said sound sensing part, and said mode setting part in accordance with said set operation mode
2. The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, wherein said motor driving part comprises a motor capable of rotating and reverse rotating, wheels coupled with the axes of said motor, and a means for changing the direction of the wheels.
3 The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, wherein said mode setting part is consisted of a button and said control part sets the operation mode of the pet robot in accordance with the number of the pressure on the button.
4 The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, wherein said sound sensing part comprises
a microphone capable of converting sounds into electric signals,
an amplifier capable of amplifying the electric signals from the microphone,
a high-pass filter capable of filtering only high frequency signals from the amplifier;
and a means for converting signals from the high-pass filter into signals compatible to the control part
5 The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, which further comprises a sound generating part capable of generating sounds under control of said control part.
6. The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, which further comprises a vibration motor capable of vibrating under the control of said control part.
7. The pet robot as set forth in claim 6, wherein said control part reduces the power value of the pet robot stored in the memory if the pet robot is not fed by the user for a predetermined period of time, and said control part controls said vibration motor to operate if the said power value falls below a predetermined level
8. The pet robot as set forth in claim 1, which further comprises a data communication interface capable of communicating data.
9. The pet robot as set forth in claim 8, wherein said data communication interface is an infrared communication interface.
10. The pet robot as set forth in claim 8, wherein said memory stores the gender information of the pet robot, and, if the mode is set for the Dating mode, said control part controls the pet robot to exchange the stored gender data with the partner, and then to proceed to the dating behavior only when the partner is of the opposite sex
11 The pet robot as set forth in claim 10, wherein the female pet robot moves to directions at random while the male pet robot follows the object it perceives
12 The pet robot as set forth in claim 10, wherein said control part increases the stored power value when the pet robot is fed and further increases the age of the pet robot for one step when the power value reaches a predetermined level, and, if the mode is set for the Dating mode, allows the pet robot to proceed to the dating behavior only when the age of the pet robot is over the predetermined age.
13. The pet robot as set forth in claim 12, wherein said digital food is downloaded from the Internet using said data communication interface
14. A pet robot comprising:
a motor driving part for forward/backward and left/right turn movements;
an infrared rays generating and sensing part including at lest two infrared ray generators and sensors on the front part, and at least two infrared ray generators and sensors at the bottom,
a memory for storing behavior programs and data;
and a control part for controlling said motor driving part and said infrared rays generating and sensing part in accordance with mode set by said mode setting part.
15 The pet robot as set forth in claim 14, wherein said control part controls the motor driving part to turn the direction of movement when an object is perceived during it moves, by at least one of the infrared sensors of the at least two infrared ray generators and sensors installed on the front part of the pet robot.
16 The pet robot as set forth in claim 14, wherein said control part controls the motor driving part to turn the direction of the movement to a side opposite to the infrared ray sensor(s), in case one or more of said sensor(s), among the at least two infrared ray sensors installed on the front part of the pet robot, fails to perceive an object during the pet robot's follow movement after the object.
17. The pet robot as set forth in claim 14, wherein said control part controls the motor driving part to turn the direction of the movement to a side opposite to the infrared ray sensor(s), in case one or more of said sensor(s), among the at least two infrared ray sensors installed on the bottom part of the pet robot, fails to perceive an object during the pet robot's follow movement after the object.
18 The pet robot as set forth in claim 14, wherein at least one of said infrared ray generators and sensors is equipped with an infrared communication modem which allows exchange of data.
19 The pet robot as set forth in claim 14, wherein said control part controls said motor driving part to make turn movements until an object is perceived by said infrared ray generators and sensors installed on the front part of the pet robot; upon perceiving an object, further controls said motor driving part to move toward the object; and controls said motor driving part to repeatedly turn the direction of the movement if said infrared ray generators and sensors installed at the bottom part of the pet robot perceives the black boundary while the pet robot is in movement
20. A pet robot comprising
a motor driving part including a motor capable of rotation and reverse-rotation, and wheels coupled with the axes of the motor,
a sound sensing part including a microphone for converting sounds into electric signals, an amplifier for amplifying the electric signals from the microphone, a high-pass filter for filtering only high frequency signals from the amplifier, and a means for converting signals from the high-pass filter into signals perceivable to microprocessors;
a sound generating part including a sound generating device and a sound source device;
a memory for storing the behavior programs and data;
and a control part for control of said motor driving part, said infrared ray generators and sensors, said sound sensing part, and said mode setting part in accordance with the operation mode as set by said mode setting part;
wherein said control part controls said sound generating part to generate a tone and to increase the scale of the tone at a predetermined speed for a predetermined time period upon perceiving a sound through said sound sensing part, further controls said sound generating part to stop generating the tone while virtually increasing the scale at a predetermined speed, and further controls, upon perceiving a sound during said virtual increase of the scale through said sound sensing part, said motor driving part to move a distance corresponding to the scale of the tone at the time of perceiving the sound
Description
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0001] 1. Field of the Invention

[0002] The subject invention relates to an intelligent pet robot, in particular, to a pet robot that can perform various games or behaviors, alone or together with other robots.

[0003] 2. Description of the Prior Art

[0004] Based on the recent developments in the fields of the information technologies, various toys utilizing such information technologies have been introduced, an example of which is “Tamagotchi”, a toy that allows a virtual pet animal to grow in that toy.

[0005] However, since this toy allows a pet animal to grow only within the toy, actual exchange of feelings with the animal is not possible. As a consequence, if the pet animal fails to grow as the owner desires, the owner is inclined to bring the animal to death in order to begin raising of the animal anew, a phenomenon often blamed for fostering the tendency of ignoring the lives.

[0006] In addition, since the above mentioned toy allows a simple raising game of a virtual pet animal, not allowing any other games, one may easily lose interest in it.

[0007] The present invention, conceived to solve the above problems, discloses a pet robot capable of competing with other pet animal after it has been grown up. This new toy, employing a power value system according to which each virtual animal has a different power value based on the progress of its growth and an animal with a higher power value prevails if two toys are connected to each other to compete, is capable of attracting enhanced interest of the users

[0008] However, the merits of these toys are limited in that the pet animal exists only in a cyber space, thus, no real exchange of feelings between the users and the pet animal is possible, and that the game the toys provide is very limited.

[0009] A possible solution of these problems has been provided by a pet robot introduced by the Japanese company “Sony”, which has attracted public attention because this pet robot behaves like a real pet animal having a considerable level of intelligence. The problem with this toy, however, is that it is of such a high price, exceeding several thousand dollars, that it is not accessible for ordinary users.

[0010] The present invention, made in view of the afore-mentioned, aims to provide a pet robot that exists not merely in a virtual space but in the real world, at a reasonably low price.

[0011] The present invention aims further to provide a pet robot capable of performing various games.

[0012] Still another objective of the present invention is to provide a pet robot capable of playing games or even dating with other pet robots.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] A pet robot of the present invention, equipped with an electric motor, can move itself. The pet robot, equipped further with infrared ray generators and sensors, not only can evade obstacles when it moves, but also can follow a racing track laid by a user. The pet robot, further comprising a sound sensing part, can receive sounds from a user, Since the user's sound includes clapping of the hands, the user may give instructions to the pet robot by clapping his hands as well. The pet robot comprises further a mode setting part which allows setting of a specific operation mode among various operation modes of the pet robot. In addition to the Basic mode, the operation modes may include Racing mode, Escape mode, Sing-and-run mode, Sumo-wrestling mode, and so on. Since the pet robot is endowed with a gender, either a male or a female, it is also capable of dating with other pet robot under certain conditions Restrictions in respect to the power reserve, age, etc, of the pet robots may serve as prerequisites for a particular operation mode. The pet robot may further be equipped with an interface for data communication which enables the pet robot to be connected to a server on the Internet, to download data, game programs, music, etc., and to recognize the gender of a partner before it proceeds to a dating with the partner.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0014]FIG. 1 is a schematic block chart showing the internal construction of the pet robot in accordance with the present invention,

[0015]FIG. 2 is a flowchart showing the process of selecting a operation mode of the pet robot;

[0016]FIG. 3 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Basic mode,

[0017]FIG. 4 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Racing mode;

[0018]FIG. 5 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Escape mode,

[0019]FIG. 6 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Sing-and-run mode;

[0020]FIG. 7 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Dating mode;

[0021]FIG. 8 is a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Sumo-wrestling mode;

[0022]FIG. 9 illustrates the pet robot as viewed from the front, wherein (a) shows an example of the arrangement of the infrared ray generators and sensors as viewed from the front; (b) shows that an object in front is perceived by the infrared sensors; and (c) shows how the infrared sensors perceive an object which moves to the left side,

[0023]FIG. 10 illustrates how a movement of an object is perceived by only two infrared sensors;

[0024]FIG. 11 is a flowchart showing an example of the growth algorithm of the pet robot, and

[0025]FIG. 12 shows a network construction for explanation of an embodiment of the invention wherein the pet robot is connected to a server via the Internet in order to download digital foods, cyber medicines, or programs.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0026] A detailed description of the present pet robot is given below making reference to the drawings.

[0027] 1. Construction of the Pet Robot

[0028] A detailed explanation of the construction of the pet robot 100 is given below with reference to FIG. 1.

[0029] The pet robot 100 is equipped with a memory 190 for storing, of various programs, the ID of the pet robot 100, the present power value of the pet robot 100, etc. For the memory 190, a non-volatile memory such as ROM (Read Only Memory), EEPROM (Electrically Erasable Programmable ROM), flash memory, and/or a volatile memory such as DRAM(Dynamic Random Access Memory), SRAM(Static Random Access Memory) may be used A CD-ROM or magnetic memory device may be used as a supplementary memory device

[0030] Since the pet robot 100 comprises a motor driving part including an electric motor, it is capable of forward/backward as well as right/left movement. The motor, linked with wheels, enables movements of the pet robot through its rotation: Rotation and reverse-rotation of the motor enables forward and backward movements of the pet robot respectively. Since the motor driving part comprises further a means to control the angles of the wheels, a turning movement to the right or to the left is also possible. It is also possible that the control of the wheels are arranged in a manner that only wheels of one side are driven while those of the other side not, so that a circular movement is made on the axis of the latter wheels. It is preferable that the motor is driven electrically and that the distance of the movement is controlled by a PWM (pulse width modulation) generator.

[0031] The infrared ray generators and sensors 130 enable the pet robot to automatically perceive any obstacle ahead of it and to evade the obstacle, or to be directed to a desired position when it moves.

[0032] To be able to perceive an object ahead of the pet robot, the infrared ray generators and sensors need to be placed on the front part of the pet robot 100. To be able to recognize the more diverse forms of obstacles, the more infrared ray generators and sensors need to be installed, which will results in higher costs. Thus, an appropriate number of the infrared ray generators and sensors need to be selected in consideration of both the economy and the purpose of the toy FIG. 9(a) shows an example of the pet robot having six infrared ray generators and sensors 131 in a raw.

[0033] In case an object is ahead of the pet robot, all the six sensors (a, b, c, d, e, f) perceive it as illustrated in FIG. 9(b). If the object moves to the left, the sensor ‘a’ cannot perceive it as shown in FIG. 9(c) In this way, the direction of a movement of an object is recognized through the perceptions of each individual sensors of the object.

[0034] Further, to enable the pet robot to run over a track marked in black color on a floor, both the left and the right side of its bottom should be equipped with an infrared ray generator and sensor respectively. In case the pet robot 100, in movement in the arrow marked direction, correctly runs over the black track R, the sensors at both sides all perceives the black track (as illustrated in FIG. 10 at t1 and t2) However, if the right sensor 131 b perceives the black track, while the left sensor 131 a does not, this would mean that the track R is curved to the right. In this case, the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 130 to direct the pet robot 100 to the right, so that the pet robot 100 continues to move over the black track R

[0035] For making the movement over the black track more sensitive, an increased number of the infrared ray generators and sensors is required. In contrast to FIG. 10 where only two generators and sensors, each one at the right and the left side, are adopted, more generators and sensors may also be adopted as in FIG. 9(b) where each three generators and sensors have been adopted at both sides, to the effect that the distances between the sensors are reduced and more sensitive perception of an object is enabled. Another advantage of the increase of the sensors would be that it enables a movement over a track R having a narrower width.

[0036] The sound sensing part 140 has been adopted to allow the pet robot to perceive and react to sounds. For example, the pet robot can be controlled to move or to stop moving in accordance with hand clapping of a user. For this purpose, the sound sensing part 140 comprises a microphone that transforms sounds into electric signals, an amplifier which amplifies the electric signals from the microphone, and an integration circuit or an analogue-digital converter (A/D converter) which transforms the signals from the amplifier into signals perceivable by a microprocessor

[0037] If a voice recognition function is added to the sound sensing part 140, the pet robot can also react to voice instructions. For that purpose, either a software for recognition of the digital signals from the A/D converter in voice signals shall be added to the control part, or an additional hardware for voice recognition is needed.

[0038] According to an embodiment of the present invention, the pet robot reacts to hand clapping. Since the hand clapping produces a tone in high frequency ranges in contrast to human voice, the sound sensing part 140 is preferably equipped with a high-pass filter so that only tones having high frequencies pass it and are perceived Moreover, since a hand clapping lasts only for 0 05 to 1 second, exclusion of all tones having a shorter or longer duration is desirable to reduce malfunctions.

[0039] The mode setting part 150 is used for setting a operation mode of the pet robot, for example, the pet robot may perform a competition game with other pet robot(s) at competition game mode while it may play alone at an exercise mode, etc The mode setting part 150 may be embodied in form of a button, a touch screen combined with the display part 160, or a remote control using infrared rays, but not limited to any of these specific means.

[0040] The control part 110 controls the other parts of the pet robot based on the preprogrammed contents. The control part 110 can be embodied either by software utilizing microprocessors, or by hardware utilizing logic devices

[0041] Furthermore, the pet robot 100 may comprise a display part 160 for displaying the status of the pet robot 100 or messages to assist the users in selecting the desired functions LED (light emitting diode) or LCD (liquid crystal display) can be used as a display device for the display part 160. If only one LED is used, different states of the pet robot may be displayed by different intervals of the blinking, e g. the state of hunger by fast blinking, the state of satisfaction by slow blinking, and so on. If a LCD is used, the quantity of the displayable information will increase so that a help screen or a dialogue screen for communication between the pet robot 100 and a user can also be provided.

[0042] The pet robot 100 may further comprise a sound generating part 170 capable of producing music or sound. The sound generating part 170 is used for sending messages of the pet robot 100 to the users, e.g the pet robot 100 moans when it has hunger, while it sings a song when it feels good. The sound generating part 170 includes a sound generating device such as a buzzer, piezo device, speaker, etc, and a sound source device such as a melody IC, etc.

[0043] The pet robot 100 may further comprise a data communication interface 180 for data communication with other pet robots or with computers. For the data communication interface 180, various means including wireless communication interfaces such as infrared communication interface, acoustic coupled communication interface, BlueTooth, etc., wire communication interfaces using wired connection means such as RS-232C, USB, etc., communication interfaces utilizing light sense, etc. can be used. The pet robot 100 can be connected via the above means to internet compatible communication terminals such as computer, mobile phone, PDA, TV, etc. and (also can be connected) through these internet connection terminals to the Internet.

[0044] A pet robot 100 equipped with the data communication interface 180 can be connected to a pet robot administration server on the Internet via the data communication interface 180 and can download various game programs, audio files, cyber foods necessary for its growth, cyber medicines, etc from the server.

[0045] It is also possible that the pet robot 100 is connected directly to a server on the Internet without using a computer, mobile phone, PDA, TV, etc provided that the pet robot is equipped with a communication means such as modem, or LAN interface, or the like which allows a direct connection to the Internet.

[0046] In case an infrared communication interface, or wireless communication interface, etc is used, the computer, mobile phone, PDA, TV, etc. should be equipped with a corresponding infrared communication interface, or wireless communication interface, etc. The user can then proceed, while the Internet compatible terminal is being connected with the server on the Internet, to communicate data with the Internet compatible terminal through the data communication interface 180, and then proceed data communication with the server on the Internet using the internet compatible terminal

[0047] In case an infrared communication interface is adopted, the infrared ray generators and sensors for detecting obstacles can be made compatible also for data communication by combining at least one of the infrared ray generators and sensors with an infrared communication modem.

[0048] The pet robot 100 can further comprise a vibration motor 175. A pet robot 100 equipped with such a vibration motor 175 can be arranged to shiver itself when it feels good (or bad), or when it is in bad health.

[0049] 2. Functions of the Pet Robot

[0050] 2-1 Selection of the Mode

[0051] The pet robot 100, allowing a user to select from various modes of operation, can perform different behaviors in accordance with the selected mode The mode selection can be made using the mode setting part 150

[0052] The mode setting part 150 can be embodied, as explained above, using a button, a touch screen combined with the display part 160, or a remote control device utilizing infrared rays

[0053] In case a button is adopted, different modes of operation can be controlled by different numbers of the pressures on the button. In case a touch screen is adopted, the display part 160 may show the selectable modes so that the user may select one of them on the screen. If a remote control device utilizing infrared rays is adopted, selection of the mode can be made by pressing special mode button(s) on the remote control device, or by the numbers of the pressures on the mode setting button of the remote control device.

[0054] The process of selecting the mode is described below making reference to FIG. 2

[0055] The user selects a mode using the mode setting part 150(step S10). As a means for mode setting, as explained above, a button, a touch screen, a remote control device, etc., may be adopted but is not limited thereto

[0056] For performance of specific operation modes prescribed conditions can be required: e.g. the Racing mode may require that the power of the pet robot 100 exceeds a prescribed level, or the Dating mode may require that the pet robot 100 should be over a certain prescribed age, an so on.

[0057] Accordingly, if the user selects a mode, it should be confirmed whether the pet robot 100 satisfies all the prescribed conditions for the selected operation (step S20).

[0058] If the conditions are met, the selected operation is performed (step S30), otherwise an error message is displayed on the display part 160 or the sound generating part 170 releases an error sound (step S40) Alternatively it is also possible that no reaction occurs in the place of showing an error message.

[0059] 2-2 Operations at Different Modes

[0060] It is possible that the modes are so designed that a wide variety of different behaviors are covered. In the following, some exemplary modes are explained Although the following explanation exemplifies clapping of hands as the means for delivering instructions to the pet robot 100 the present invention is not limited thereto, but rather comprises instruction via voice, remote control device, or other various means.

[0061] 2-2-1. Basic Mode

[0062] In the Basic mode, the pet robot moves to the left upon one clapping, to the right upon two clapping, and can move evading any obstacle it confronts. In the absence of further clapping within a predetermined time limit the pet robot automatically stops further action and goes into the sleep mode If an additional predetermined time limit elapses in the sleep mode without perceiving any clapping, the pet robot escapes from the Basic mode. In this state, the pet robot can be activated anew by resetting a operation mode via the mode setting part 150.

[0063]FIG. 3 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations in the Basic mode The flow of operations in the Basic mode is explained in detail below making reference to FIG. 3.

[0064] Upon entering the Basic mode the sleep timer begins to function (step S110). The sleep timer controls the pet robot to stop further action if the pet robot does not receive any instructions within a predetermined time limit (sleep time).

[0065] Along with the functioning of the sleep timer, the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 120 to effect the pet robot to move forward for a predetermined distance (step S111) Alternatively, the movement can be so controlled that it continues until further instructions are given, instead of moving a predetermined distance.

[0066] If one clapping is given to the pet robot 100 in still state after having moved a predetermined distance (an example of step S120), the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 120 to effect a left turn and to move a predetermined distance (step S121). In addition, since a clapping has been received, the sleep timer is reset and the time counting commences anew (step S115). Alternatively, the turning movement can be allowed upon clapping also while the pet robot is in movement.

[0067] If two clapping is given to the pet robot 100 in still state (an example of step S130), the control part 110 controls the motor driver part 120 to effect a right turn and to move a predetermined distance (step S131). In addition, since a clapping has been received, the sleep timer is reset and the time counting commences anew (step S115). Alternatively, the turning movement can be allowed upon clapping also while the pet robot is in movement.

[0068] If the pet robot 100 perceives through the infrared ray generators and sensors 130 an obstacle ahead of it while it moves forward (an example of step S140), the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 120 to evade the obstacle (step S141)

[0069] As to the method of evading an obstacle, an evading motion can either be made after collision with an obstacle by slightly moving backward and turning to any other directions, or to detect an obstacle using the infrared ray generators and sensors 130 prior to a collision with it, and make a prior turn movement to evade it.

[0070] If the time limit (sleep time) set by the sleep timer elapses during the above movement, the movement ceases (step S160). If the time limit has not elapsed (‘no’ at step S150) the operation returns to step S111 and repeats the above movement

[0071] After cease of the movement and within a predetermined reset time (‘no’ at step S170) the operation returns to step S111 and the pet robot waits for the next clapping If no clapping is perceived within a predetermined time limit (reset time) (‘yes’ at step S170), the pet robot escapes from the Basic mode (step S180).

[0072] Once the pet robot has escaped from the Basic mode, the pet robot 100 can only be re-activated if a mode is selected anew using the mode setting part 150. In order to reduce the power consumption, it is preferable that the microprocessor of the control part 110 is set to a sleep mode when an automatic escape from the Basic mode occurs, and that the microprocessor is controlled via an interrupt, etc to escape the sleep mode when the user resets the mode using the mode setting part 150. This process can be designed in a manner, e.g that the microprocessor is interrupted if a user presses the button of the mode setting part 150, in case the mode setting part operates by button

[0073] Furthermore, various other modes can be designed in addition to the above mentioned e g. the pet robot follows a moving object upon a triple clapping, it sings a song upon a quadruple clapping, and so forth.

[0074] 2-2-2. Racing Mode

[0075] The pet robot 100 moves over a black track on the floor at the Racing mode. The black track can be made in various manners, for instance, by marking a track on the paper using a water-proof marker in black color, by attaching a black tape on the floor, etc.

[0076]FIG. 4 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Racing mode. The flow of operations at the Racing mode is explained in detail below making reference to FIG. 4.

[0077] If the pet robot 100 is placed on the black track with its mode set at the Racing mode, the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 120 to go forward (step S210).

[0078] The pet robot 100 perceives the track using the infrared ray generators and sensors 130. For perceiving the black track, at least two infrared ray generators and sensors are required, each one at its left side and right side. If the black track is not perceived at any of these two sides, the control part 110 recognizes that the black track is curved to the opposite direction and controls the motor driving part 120 to make turn movements until the track is perceived by the sensors at both sides

[0079] In other words, if the left sensor perceives the black track at step S220, it is then confirmed at step S230 if the right sensor also perceives it. If the black track is perceived at both sides (‘no’ at step S230), the operation returns to step S220 and continues to perceive the black track.

[0080] If the black track is not perceived at the right side, which means that the track is curved to the left, the control part 110 controls the motor driving part 120 to make a turn to the left. The speed of the left turn movement is determined considering the speed of the current forward movement.

[0081] If the pet robot moves at a speed of 10 cm/sec. and can make turn movements ten times per second, one turn movement shall have an angle of 4 5° or more in order to follow a track having a maximal 45° curve per 10 cm However, in case a too big turn is programmed for one turn movement, a manifold turn movements will be necessary to follow a track curved with a small angle, thus, an appropriate value should be selected to reduce the turn movements.

[0082] On the other hand, if no black track is perceived by the left sensor at step S220, the operation proceeds to step S250 and confirms if it is perceived by the right sensor. If the right sensor perceives the track (‘no’ at step S250), this means that only the left sensor does not perceive it, thus, the black track is curved to the right Accordingly, the control part 10 controls the motor driving part 120 to make a turn movement to the right.

[0083] If the right sensor does not perceive the black track also (‘yes’ at step S250), which means that the racing is over, the movement ceases (step S260) It is possible that the pet robot 100 is designed to automatically escape the Racing mode at this stage.

[0084] 2-2-3. Escape Mode

[0085] The Escape mode is a game wherein a pet robot that escape first from a predetermined space marked with a black band wins. At the Escape mode, the pet robot makes turn movements to a direction at random upon clapping of hands. Here, the pet robot can also make movements evading any obstacle it confronts

[0086]FIG. 5 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Escape mode. The flow of the operations at the Escape mode is explained in detail below making reference to FIG. 5.

[0087] With commencement of the Escape mode, the pet robot 100 begins to move forward (step S310) Upon perceiving a clapping (‘yes’ at step 320), the control part 110 of the pet robot 100 controls the motor driving part 120 to make a turn movement to a direction at random (step S340).

[0088] Furthermore, the pet robot also makes a turn movement to a direction at random if it confronts an obstacle (step S340).

[0089] If the black band is perceived (‘yes’ at step S350), which means that the pet robot has arrived at the boundary line, it crosses over the black band or stops on it (step S360), terminating the Escape mode. It is possible that the pet robot 100 is designed to automatically escape the Escape mode at this stage

[0090] 2-2-4 Sing-and-Run Mode

[0091] At the Sing-and-run mode the pet robot starts to sing at an initial tone by a clapping of the hands and the pet robot's singing tone ascends higher and higher. After the singing is terminated, the pet robot waits for a clapping, during the waiting time, however, the tone ascends without producing any sound from the initial tone, at the same speed as before. If a clapping is perceived in this state, the pet robot moves a distance in proportion to the scale of the tone. If a time limit equal to the previous singing time elapses without any clapping being perceived, an error sound is released The pet robot which has moved most near to the target point wins the game.

[0092]FIG. 6 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Sing-and-run mode. The flow of operations at the Sing-and-run mode is explained below in detail making reference to FIG. 6

[0093] With commencement of the Sing-and-run mode, the control part 110 waits for a clapping to be perceived by the sound sensing part 140.

[0094] If a clapping is perceived, the control part 110 controls the sound generating part 170 to generate the initial tone (step S420). The initial tone can be either a fixed tone, or a tone selected at random. Alternatively, a mono-frequency sound can be used instead of a tone.

[0095] The control part 110 controls the sound generating part 170 to ascend the tone in predetermined intervals, wherein the predetermined interval can be a fixed time period such as 0.5 second, or a time period determined at random. It is also possible that the tone is made to ascend continuously, instead of ascending in intervals. If the tone reaches the highest frequency or the highest scale, the ascending can begin anew from the initial tone.

[0096] After having generated sound for a predetermined period, the pet robot 100 ceases to generate sound and waits for a clapping. The tone ascends without producing any sound at the same speed as before during the waiting time (step S430)

[0097] Since the duration of the time for ascending the tone without generation of sound is equal to the immediately preceding time for generation of the sound, the time for termination is counted while the tone ascends (step S440) If the termination time comes, i e if no clapping is perceived within a predetermined time limit after generation of the sound has ceased, the operation enters step S470 and the sound generating part 170 is controlled to generate an error sound

[0098] The pet robot waits for a clapping prior to the termination time. If a clapping is perceived during the time period when the tone ascends internally without generating sound (‘yes’ at step S450), the control part 110 controls the motor driver part 120 to move a distance in proportion to the present level of the tone (step S460) For example, if the range of the tone to be generated covers eight levels from the low C to the high C, the distances to be moved can be prescribed as 1 cm at the low C, 2 cm at D, etc., so that the distance of the movements is determined by the scale of the present tone.

[0099] If no clapping is perceived within the time limit in the course of repeating the operations between step S430 and S450, an error sound is generated In contrast, if a clapping is perceived within the above time limit, a movement for a distance corresponding to the present tone is effected 2-2-5. Dating Mode

[0100] The Dating mode allows two pet robots 100 to exchange data with each other, to sing together, or allows one pet robot to follow the other For this purpose the memory 190 of the pet robot 100 is provided with a code for identification of the gender of the pet robot. The pet robot 100 can verify that a partner pet robot is of the opposite sex by exchanging the codes using the data communication interface 180 before it proceeds to date with the partner.

[0101]FIG. 7 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Dating mode The flow of operations at the Dating mode is explained below in detail making reference to FIG. 7.

[0102] With commencement of the Dating mode, the pet robot 100 waits for a clapping (step S510) If a clapping is perceived, the control part 110 proceeds to exchange data with a pet robot 100 in the neighborhood using the data communication interface 180(step S520).

[0103] For the data communication interface 180, various means including wireless communication interface such as infrared communication interface, acoustic coupled communication interface, BlueTooth; wired communication interface such as RS-232C, USB using a wire connection means; light sensing communication interface, etc. can be used.

[0104] In case an infrared communication interface is adopted, the infrared ray generators and sensors for detecting obstacles can also be used for the infrared communication purposes. One or more of the infrared ray generators and sensors for detection of obstacles as illustrated in FIG. 9 can be used for data communication as well For instance, if the far left infrared ray generator sends data and the far right sensor receives data, two pet robots 100 facing to each other can exchange data.

[0105] After the exchange of data the pet robots can verify based on the data, whether their partner is of the opposite sex (step S530)

[0106] The pet robot 100 does not proceed further with the dating and escapes the Dating mode, if the partner is not of the opposite sex The pet robot 100 can also manifest that it is not of the opposite sex, by a vibration motion using the vibration motor 175, by generating a sound expressive of the unpleasant feeling using the sound generating part 170, or by displaying a message expressive of the unpleasant feeling using the display part 160.

[0107] After confirming that the partner is of the opposite sex at step S530, the pet robot 100 sings a song using the sound generating part (step S540) Here, the singing can be so arranged that the two pet robots 100 sing one song each in succession, or that they sing one song in duet dividing the tone range of the song into two parts, i.e. male part and female part.

[0108] Aside the singing, various other dating behaviors can also be designed, e g. the male pet robot 100 follows the female pet robot 100. If the female pet robot moves to a direction at step S540, the male pet robot 100 detects the female pet robot using its infrared ray generator/sensor part 130 and follows it To enable such dating operation, the female pet robot and the male pet robot should be positioned sufficiently nearby so that detection of the female pet robot by the male partner via the latter's infrared ray generator/sensor part 130 is possible.

[0109] Further, it is possible that the Dating mode is coupled with an age bar in connection with the growth of the pet robot 100, an explanation of which follows below. If the Dating mode is selected at step S10 in FIG. 2, it is checked at step S20 as to whether the pet robot is over a predetermined age, e.g. six years The pet robot 100 can enter the Dating mode only if it satisfies the age requirement 2-2-6 Sumo-Wrestling Mode

[0110] The Sumo-wrestling mode is a game wherein two or more pet robots 100 compete to push another pet robot out of the predetermined boundary marked in black FIG. 8 illustrates a flowchart showing the flow of operations at the Sumo-wrestling mode The flow of operations at the Sumo-wrestling mode is explained in detail below making reference to FIG. 8.

[0111] With commencement of the Sumo-wrestling mode the pet robot 100 searches for a competitor by turning continuously its direction until it finds one (steps S710, S720). Alternatively, the game can begin with two pet robots 100 facing to each other.

[0112] If an object is perceived (‘yes’ at step S710), the pet robot 100 moves toward the object (step S730). The pet robot 100 pushes the competitor out of the boundary by continuing its forward movement even after collision with the object.

[0113] In order to stay within the boundary, the pet robot 100 continuously checks if the black boundary is detected (step S740). Upon perceiving the black boundary, the pet robot makes a turn movement to another direction in order not to cross over the boundary (step S750).

[0114] Since a turn movement may lead to a loss of sensing the competitor, the pet robot 100 returns to step S710 and repeats the above operations. In this way, two or more pet robots can push other pet robots out of the boundary, and the pet robot that remains last in the boundary wins the game

[0115] 2-3 Growth of the Pet Robot

[0116] The pet robot 100 can be raised by various activities of the user such as feeding, playing with the pet robot, etc. The growth algorithm of the pet robot 100 is explained below making reference to FIG. 11. The pet robot 100 can be equipped with an automatic growth control algorithm using a hardware in it or using the function of a software It is also possible that the growth of the pet robot is controlled by a pet robot server using the data of the pet robot.

[0117] Although the growth of the pet robot can be designed diversely, the growth is determined basically by the quantity of the digital food the pet robot receives However, it can be so designed that the pet robot gets sick if it is not fed at the right time, and, once sick, it has to be cured using a cyber medicine before it receives further digital food In such a case, the growth of the pet robot is also correlated with the quantity of the received cyber medicine. In this case, a power value can be established based on the quantities of the digital food and the cyber medicine, and if the power reaches a predetermined value k, the age of the pet robot increases. The age of the pet robot can be controlled in a manner that the power increases by a predetermined quantity Δn when the pet robot receives digital food while the power decreases by a predetermined quantity Δm when it receives cyber medicine. Alternatively, it can be so designed that the power continues to decrease in the state of sickness until an ample injection is received.

[0118] The digital food and the cyber medicine can be supplied via the display part 160 and the mode setting part 150, or, alternatively, they can be downloaded from the pet robot server on the Internet after the pet robot has been connected to the server using the data communication interface 180.

[0119] As illustrated in FIG. 12, the user can connect to a pet robot server 300 via the Internet 500 for the purpose of downloading digital food or cyber medicine for the pet robot using his terminal 200. The pet robot server 300 is connected to a database 400 that stores information on the pet robot. As the user's terminal 200 for connection to the pet robot server 300 any one of a PC, PDA (personal digital assistant), mobile phone, TV, etc can be used The user can connect to the game server 300 via the terminal 200 using the data communication interface 180 of his pet robot and download the digital food, etc

[0120] An example in which a user connects to the pet robot server by using his pet robot's data communication interface 180 and downloads the cyber food or cyber medicine from the server is explained below.

[0121] As shown in FIG. 11; the user connects to the game server (step S610) and downloads the digital food (step S630), if necessary after initializing the pet robot (step S620). If the downloading succeeds, a predetermined quantity Δn is added (step S640) The success in downloading the digital food means that the digital food has been downloaded to the pet robot at the right time, i.e if the digital food is downloaded to the pet robot when the pet robot is already in possession of the maximum quantity of the digital food, or when the pet robot is sick and not able to receive the digital food, this does not result in the increase of the power.

[0122] On the other hand, if the user succeeds in downloading the cyber medicine (step S650), a predetermined quantity Δm of power is reduced (step S660). It is preferable that the quantity to be reduced Δm is greater than the quantity to be added Δn after the downloading of the digital food. In case of downloading the cyber medicine, the power value changes only when the downloading succeeds i.e. in case where the pet robot is not sick, either the downloading of cyber medicine does not succeeds, or the downloading does not result in reduction of the power

[0123] In this manner, the power value is counted to determine whether it reaches a predetermined value k required for the increase of the age (step S670). If the value k is sufficient, the age of the pet robot increases for one step (step S680), otherwise, the operation returns to the initial state.

[0124] With the increase of the age, the pet robot can be allowed to do a specific behavior For example, if the game server increases the age of the pet robot for one step and this result is communicated to the pet robot, so that the age data in the pet robot is adjusted, the pet robot can sing a birthday song, or perform a specific dance

[0125] As to the growth of the pet robot, it is preferable that the growth is so designed that frequent interactions between the user and the pet robot accelerate the growth of the pet robot Accordingly, not only the quantity of the downloaded digital food, but also the frequency of the downloading can be used as parameters of the ageing Since the power (digital food) is consumed by the movements of the pet robot, a pet robot having more play with the user consumes more power than a pet robot left alone in still state, and thus, needs to be fed more often. Since the time for maintaining a certain level of power is shorter for a pet robot with more movements than a pet robot with less movements, when fed with the same quantity of the digital food, a control method using only the download frequency of the digital food and the cyber medicine can reflect the interactions between the pet robot and the user.

[0126] It is also possible that the digital food, programs, etc. are stored in a PC instead of a sever on the Internet and downloaded therefrom. A PDA, a game device, a DVD player, a video player, etc can be used for the same purpose, instead of a PC as well

[0127] Although the above detailed description of the subject invention has been made in the light of the examples as above, the scope of the rights of the subject invention is not restricted thereto, but rather shall be determined by the claims as attached below, allowing modifications and changes within the ideas of the present invention, as it will be recognized by persons skilled in the art.

Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US6722973 *Nov 13, 2001Apr 20, 2004Wiz Co., Ltd.Apparatus for the simulated rearing of a movable living object
US7117190 *Nov 30, 2000Oct 3, 2006Sony CorporationRobot apparatus, control method thereof, and method for judging character of robot apparatus
US7120257Sep 18, 2003Oct 10, 2006Mattel, Inc.Audible sound detection control circuits for toys and other amusement devices
US7233900 *Apr 5, 2002Jun 19, 2007Sony CorporationWord sequence output device
US7707033 *Jun 18, 2002Apr 27, 2010Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.Method for training a consumer-oriented application device by speech items, whilst reporting progress by an animated character with various maturity statuses each associated to a respective training level, and a device arranged for supporting such method
US7769492 *Feb 22, 2006Aug 3, 2010Intouch Technologies, Inc.Graphical interface for a remote presence system
US7853357 *Mar 9, 2004Dec 14, 2010Sony CorporationRobot behavior control based on current and predictive internal, external condition and states with levels of activations
US8287372Sep 26, 2007Oct 16, 2012Mattel, Inc.Interactive toy and display system
US8311670 *Feb 4, 2008Nov 13, 2012Samsung Electronics Co., LtdGenetic robot platform and genetic robot behavior expression method
US8346872Aug 18, 2006Jan 1, 2013The Invention Science Fund I, LlcContext parameters and identifiers for communication
US8353767 *Jul 14, 2008Jan 15, 2013GanzSystem and method for a virtual character in a virtual world to interact with a user
US8425289Sep 23, 2009Apr 23, 2013Disney Enterprises, Inc.Traveling virtual pet game system
US8549077Oct 5, 2006Oct 1, 2013The Invention Science Fund I, LlcUsage parameters for communication content
US8645479 *Dec 28, 2009Feb 4, 2014Tencent Technology (Shenzhen) Company LimitedChatting system, method and apparatus for virtual pet
US20080026836 *Aug 15, 2007Jan 31, 2008Konami Digital Entertainment Co., Ltd.Unauthorized conduct prevention method and machine
US20080215182 *Feb 4, 2008Sep 4, 2008Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd.Genetic robot platform and genetic robot behavior expression method
US20110034102 *Apr 30, 2010Feb 10, 2011Peter Sui Lun FongInteractive Device with Sound-Based Action Synchronization
US20120109423 *Dec 12, 2011May 3, 2012Irobot CorporationSystem and method for behavior based control of an autonomous vehicle
EP1832324A1 *Mar 2, 2007Sep 12, 2007Conceptioneering LtdToy
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/1
International ClassificationA63H11/00, B25J13/00, B25J5/00, A63H13/00
Cooperative ClassificationA63H11/00
European ClassificationA63H11/00