Sony was one of the first ones to put entertainment robots on the market before the dawn of the new century. The first batch of 3,000 dogs was sold out in 20 minutes and later, a total of 150,000 robotic dogs were shipped in Japan before it finally closed down. Aibo made its name in different industries at its peak and was used in movies and a number of ad campaigns.
“It was a difficult decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics,” chief executive Kazuo Hirai said at a news briefing, as reported by The Guardian. “I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop Aibo because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realize Sony’s mission (to inspire).”
The Japanese firm has now decided to resurrect the once Sony’s iconic dog and given it a major do-over. This new model has the ability to “form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion,” claims Sony. It uses ultra-compact actuators which allow the dog’s body to move along 22 axes.
You can mask your expressions but you can never hide the emotion in your eyes. Sony seems to believe that statement as well since the new version of Aibo has two OLED panels to display a range of expressions and even show physical signs of body temperature changes. There is a camera fitted in the nose with the ability to snap pictures.
Aibo is ivory-white in color, 30-centimeters in length with a plastic body, droopy black ears, and a wagging tail. It looks a lot like a small terrier. What makes it more special is that it has the ability to develop it’s own personality over time owing to an array of sensors, cameras, microphones and a connection to the cloud. This means that each Aibo is unique, developing its own personality based on interaction with the owner. It has the ability to recognize the owner, running over to them and notice smiles and praise.
“Aibo recognizes spaces as it walks around the room, detecting obstacles to avoid and even figuring out the shortest distances to different locations,” says the website. This thanks to the smart actuator technology allowing to better mimic a real dog.
This latest dog will be going up for sale at the start of the year for 198,000 yen in Japan. Aibo also requires a further subscription of almost 3,000 yen per month for a minimum of 36 months. This subscription gives Aibo Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, cloud backup, and other app features. Aibo has a particular liking for the color pink and Sony is selling a bone accessory called Aibone, which is also pink in color.
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