What do you get when you combine a robot, a dinosaur, and the guy who unleashed Furby onto the world?
You get Pleo, a dinosaur toy set to go on sale this fall. More likely two of them, one for the geeklet to play with and one to take apart and modify, aka "void the warranty." It’s a little bit of robotics and a lot of software-based emergent behaviors, all wrapped up in a cooing, evolving dinosaur shell. (A Wired article from January has more details about the development process and some of Pleo’s abilities.) They’re already available for preorder, and it looks like they’ll start shipping in October.
The site indicates that there will be a community around the toy. Here’s hoping they’ll take a kindly view toward robotics hobbyists looking to modify it for their own purposes. Since it’s priced at $350, I’m betting they know who their target audience is. As the site FAQ says, "Pleo cannot fly and Pleo cannot swim! Please ensure that you do not drop Pleo from a great height or drop him into water, as doing so will void the warranty." Heh. I guess it’ll be a few years before the geeklet gets one.