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Robotics Businesses Toys

Ugobe, Maker of Pleo, Files For Bankruptcy 79

AshboryBassPlayer writes "Ugobe has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy — i.e., not reorganization but liquidation. We first discussed the company's Pleo robotic dinosaur toy in 2006. According to the company, 100,000 Pleos were sold in 2008. CEO Caleb Chung is optimistic about the auction value of intellectual property that Ugobe holds. Pleo featured 14 servo joints, a camera, and an SD Card for storage. The final street prices were commonly between $275 and $350, much higher than an earlier hoped-for price point under $200."
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Ugobe, Maker of Pleo, Files For Bankruptcy

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  • It was on /. (Score:5, Informative)

    by langelgjm ( 860756 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @12:56PM (#27703617) Journal

    No, I remember reading about the Pleo robotic dinosaur, last year, I think. There was one review where the reviewers tortured it, [] and a /. article. []

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @01:17PM (#27703921) Homepage

    That was expected; it was predicted in Robotics Business Review last month. The price point was far too high.

    WowWee's RoboReptile [] is almost as advanced, and has a price point around $90.

    WowWee is a company to watch. They have a broad line of reasonably good robotic toys at modest price points. They even sell a fembot. []

  • Move to Idaho? (Score:3, Informative)

    by CR0WTR0B0T ( 944711 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:21PM (#27704787)
    Ugobe was a bad business plan. It has nothing to do with Idaho, which is a business friendly place []. If anything, company employees would benefit from moving to Boise/Eagle from San Jose to enjoy lower commute times [] compared to San Jose commute times [], a lower cost of living [], lower crime rates [], and ready access to outdoor recreation such as skiing [].

    It's not perfect, but I live here and love it. I'm not part of the CVB, but I welcome any well-run business fed up with their home state to take a look at Boise. It's a great place to live.

  • Re:Pleo? Ugobe? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @02:47PM (#27705075)

    >They were only a step or two more advanced than those >"talking dolls" like barney and tickle me elmo.

    My friend, you are insane. They are/were light years beyond any of that. These guys had a full behavioral and learning model, not a cyclic set of preprogrammed responses to button pushing. To say nothing of a 'bump/turn left/bump/turn left path finding algorithm and a low battery, follow an infra red beacon' pattern.

    Yes, it was a first generation implementation, but it is the first and ( so far ) best platform from which to build emergent behavioral complexity.

    Example - it is entirely possible to have added a behavior for him to seek his 'nest' ( charger ) - when 'tired' ( low battery ). It fits easily and completely within the learning model - he just didn't last long enough or have the budget behind him to reach that far. More, since it would likely be coded as a basic drive, it can easily interact with the other basic drives and stimuli - ie, the lower the battery, the more it 'wants' to go to the charger.

    Add to that a sandbox tool with access to drives, behaviors, moods and animations and you have not only a cool toy, but a great educational tool as well.

    As for expensive, he was pricey for a toy, but try pricing the servos and chips that ran him and then tell me how over priced he was for the capability... and unless they changed policies, you could bypass the sandbox and completely replace the ugobe firmware on the microcontrollers, and replace it with your own.

    In short, read a little more about him. He was a tremendous technical accomplishment, and a heck of a pet to boot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @03:20PM (#27705511)

    No, the wowee bot is nowhere near as cool as Pleo ( nor as advanced for those who want to make a distinction ).

    Pleo was probably doomed because they did a very bad job of communicating that to the public at large.

    Pleo came with a usb port for field firmware upgrades from the factory, he also came with a free downloadable sandbox and a fully documented, newbie accessible scripting language that provided access to all of his drives and behaviors. You could create new ones, or modify existing ones, write them to an SD card, put it in, and see what happened. They could be based on any combination of feedback coming from any of the impressive array of sensors

    He was controlled by 14 servos and two microprocessors. He had binaural hearing with the ability to determine sound direction, an IR camera, and 4 capacitive touch sensors that meant he could tell where you were touching him, and how ( eg petting, or hitting ).

    He had weight sensors in his feet, and a closed loop control system on his clutched servos that meant he could tell when he was carrying weight, and how it was distributed. He could also tell when one of his joints had been forced, and it would trip his 'hurt' drive, and he would cry, and limp for several minutes, to several hours depending on how nice you were to him.

    He had an orientation sensor that meant he could tell if he was upside down, or resting on your shoulder, or lying on his back, and his responses would vary based on his 'mood' and orientation.

    He could also detect and identify other pleos and interact with them as well.

    Not only that, you could go outside his programming and access the servos, sensors and microcontrollers directly if you had the desire

    Nothing in the market today comes anywhere close. Certainly not robosapien or ANYTHING from wowee. They are not capable of anything like the complex behaviors, or interactions that pleo was. The only reason that he shipped with such a relatively small array of behaviors and drives was because the company ended up rushing him to launch, and wasn't able to push out updates and upgrades as fast as they needed to.

    The 'hacker friendly' stuff in the Robosapien is far less capable than the built in scriptability provided with Pleo. They gave you the ability to work within their control routines, and if that wasnt 'hacker friendly' enough for you, you could wipe their software completely and access the micro controllers directly without having to bypass security measures.

    Pleo was an incredible teaching tool and technical accomplishment that was disguised/mis-marketed as a toy. That so many people here think otherwise is a testament to how well ugobe did at setting up a 'life form'.

    It's a shame they didn't make it, as anyone who does acquire the rights to the software probably wont get it either, and will turn it into something pointless like the other toys people here keep comparing him to, and something that could have been a wonderful toy and a wonderful teaching tool, and was just plain wonderful will be lost forever.

    We'll miss you Pleo!

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie