Those of you who have played with a Pleo know exactly where this is going. The Pleo averages about 30 minues per 2-3 hour charge. Just swap batteries you say? Nope, the battery packs aren’t available. Fortunately, you can make your own pretty easily. The basic frame is a standard battery pack for 6 AA’s. There are only a few modifications necessary to line up the leads and make it fit once you’ve loaded it with batteries.
[Robert] sent us some news on Pleo’s future. Apparently a company called Jetta has bought the rights to Pleo during the bankruptcy sale. They intend on re releasing the cute little robot. They mention that they have built parts for the iRobot line. We wonder what they’ll do, if anything, to make it more appealing.
[Andy] wrote in to show us how he hacked his Pleo to be controlled by a Wii Nunchuck. He has installed Xbee units for the communication as well as written a “skit” that allows the Pleo to just stand there and wait for commands. He is using an Arduino to interpret the Nunchuck input and send it to the Pleo. It’s a pretty cool proof of concept, but the response time is pretty slow. This might be due to the Arduino’s slower serial communication rate. Yes, we said you might want to refrain from hacking them, due to their impending extinction, but did you expect us to stick to that? If you’re going to dig into one, you may also be interested in how to hack the Pleo for face recognition and remote control.
Ugobe has officially filed bankruptcy. This is bad news for Pleo. That lovable little dino bot is no longer being produced. If you’ve got one you might want to refrain from hacking, just in case it’s worth something one day. As the point out at Engadget, another toy company might buy up the rights, but we doubt it. At roughly $250 per unit, these things probably weren’t flying off the shelves.
GRIP, the Group for Interdisciplinary Psychology at the University of Bamberg have put together a couple tutorials on hacking the Pleo. For those unfamiliar, the Pleo is a small robot shaped like a dinosaur. Their goal was to make it cute and simulate emotion at a higher level than previously attained by consumer robots. Ugobe, the makers of Pleo encourage hacking of the unit and the controlling software. Look at the “developers” area of their site to download all kinds of tools to work on your Pleo.
The two tutorials released by GRIP cover adding wireless communication with a PC and adding a higher resolution camera to the unit. The goal was to make the platform capable of doing facial recognition.