Sony has rebooted the robot that it first launched in the 1990s into Aibo, a new breed of dog powered by artificial intelligence.
Aibo chases toy balls, wags its tail, can do tricks like give a person a high-five, and has “eyes.” These eyes are small screens that can give the robotic dog diverse and nuanced expressions, in addition to a rounded silhouette and a mouth that tilts up in a smile. The robot is cute, and noticeably un-robot-like, CNN reports.
Kazuo Hirai , CEO of the Japanese company, unveiled the new robotic dog in Tokyo. It is set to sell for around $1,740 in Japan this January.
Aibo also connects to an app, making it a potential rival to smart speaker devices such as Google Home and Alexa from Amazon.
But for now, the robot is being marketed as an affectionate home companion. Aside from facial expressions, Aibo can hear and understand words of praise, eventually learning which actions make its owner happy – much like training a real puppy. Aibo can alos constantly upload and update data in its cloud, so it changes personality over time, with the permission of its owner.
The robot can also record and take photos of what it experiences, according to its owner’s preferences, and can create a database of memories.
Aibo stands for Artificial Intelligence Robot, a pioneer project of Sony. The company released its first generation of the robot dogs, hoping that the puppy would interest customers and provide a gateway for interaction with artificial intelligence.
While the initial phase was successful, the robot’s price tag turned customers off as more affordable robots began entering the market. In 2006, Sony stopped its production of Aibo robots. But now, with tech giants marching into artificial intelligence, Sony has decided to get back in the game. The company teamed up with American company Cogitai to focus its investments on robotics startups around the world.