Is Sony's OPEN-R really open?

Posted 22 Apr 2001 at 16:04 UTC by steve Share This

Sony is making news again with their OPEN-R "entertainment architecture" for robots. Although OPEN-R has been touted by Sony for nearly two years as an open standard for robotics development, information from Sony on OPEN-R other than press releases is difficult to find. It almost appears that OPEN-R is a closed, proprietary technology rather than an open one. But there is a web site devoted to hacking the Aibo that has done some reverse-engineering and made available more extensive info on the hardware and software than anything yet provided by Sony. They have several tools available for download including disassemblers for APERIOS and ELF modules.

Open?, posted 23 Apr 2001 at 21:27 UTC by phooky » (Journeyer)

Nothing in Sony's press release indicates that OPEN-R will be "open" in the open source sense of the world. However, I can't imagine that the protocol won't be published or reverse-engineered quickly. I am very excited by the (implied) promise of off- the-shelf arms and legs that conform to a simple control specification. I can see a sufficiently well-implemented system becoming a de facto standard very quickly. Could be a tremendous boon to amateur hobbyists (read: myself).

There are publications, posted 24 Apr 2001 at 16:48 UTC by Maxim » (Apprentice)

Well, an inquiring mind can actually find a few research papers about the early development versions of OPEN-R, for example:

  • M.~Fujita, K.~Kageyama, ``An Open Architecture for Robot Entertainment,'' \textit{Proc. of Int. Conf. on Autnomous Agents}, 1997, California, USA, pp.~435--442.

Links to a few papers, posted 24 Apr 2001 at 19:45 UTC by steve » (Master)

Yes, that's the old ACM article, I believe. I've seen it cited in other papers but have never found it online anywhere. I'd love to have a look at it. There are few other papers floating around the net that offer some clues. This page has links to several that pertain primarily to the Aibo but touch on OPEN-R.

papers online, posted 24 Apr 2001 at 21:30 UTC by Maxim » (Apprentice)

ACM publications are available from www.acm.org (perhaps your IP should be in the list of subscribers though). The above paper's URL is http://www.acm.org/pubs/citations/proceedings/ai/267658/p435-fujita/. There are more papers in IEEE proceedings too.

pay-per-view , posted 24 Apr 2001 at 22:46 UTC by steve » (Master)

It's $10 per view to look at it. I don't want to see it that bad. :-) Thanks for finding a URL for it, though. If anyone does want to see some documentation on OPEN-R, this may be the nearest thing available. But keep in mind the architecture described in the 1997 ACM paper may not exactly match the final standard. I suspect if Sony is serious about making this any sort of wide-spread standard, they'll eventually decided to publish a standards document somewhere.

Email from Aibo World, posted 25 Apr 2001 at 21:29 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I emailed Aibo World to question what it was and they said where it could be found. However, I don't know what they're talking about. :-) Are they talking about a web site or a program menu or directory, I don't know. Help me I must be asleep.


Hello, Jim Brown!

We added at faq answer at your question

Question:What exactly is the Open-R specification and where can it be found. Answer:A document produced by Sony can be found in the "Communications", "File Store" section.

Addit:Submitted by Jim Brown

Best Regards, faq-mgr@www.aiboworld.tv

Faq manager script by http://www.mycgiscripts.com

Here's the link, posted 25 Apr 2001 at 21:33 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

I get it now. Go to AiboWorld then navigate to "Communications", then "file Store" then to "openR" to see a pdf file. At first glance, though, I don't see any real specs. Looks more like a white paper.

Looks like you found the ACM paper, posted 25 Apr 2001 at 22:51 UTC by steve » (Master)

What you found was the paper published in ACM back in '97. But this is the first time I've gotten a look at it. The full URL for those who want to read it is:


Now, if we could find out whether or not the actual OPEN-R being used is identical to what's described in this paper...

Open-R... Sorry, we're closed!, posted 2 May 2001 at 22:54 UTC by The Swirling Brain » (Master)

Here's an email I received from Sony. Looks like Open-R is not so open.


From: ERA Office [ERA.Office@am.sony.com]

Hello Jim,

Thank you for your interest in OPEN-R! As you know, OPEN-R is the underlying software and hardware architecture of Sony's Entertainment Robot, AIBO.

Unfortunately OPEN-R itself is not "open-source" as in Linux, Emacs or other "open-source" projects. However, we are actively positioning OPEN-R as a standard for entertainment robotics.

We are currently designing an OPEN-R development program. If you're interested in creating content for AIBO, please drop us a line at aibodeveloper@am.sony.com and we will keep you updated on our progress.

In the meantime you can check out AIBO Master Studio, which is a PC-based software package for creating content for AIBO. It is based on a programming language called R-CODE that is a high-level scripted language for controlling AIBO's behavior. You can learn more about AMS and R-CODE at the AMS website: http://www.us.aibo.com/ams

Thank you again for your enthusiasm. We hope AIBO encourages you to think about new applications and uses for our Entertainment Robot architecture!

Best regards,

Entertainment Robot America

Sony Electronics, Inc.

-----Original Message-----
From: Jim Brown
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2001 11:12 AM
Subject: open-r architecture

I would like to see the open-r architecture specification that is open source. Is there a web page that you can point me to?

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