Sony’s Aibo robotic pet dog made a lot of headlines when it was first launch more than a decade ago, but for some reason, the company stopped making the toy.
Now, some 12 years later, Aibo is back. But it looks so different that the question is, is this the same pet from all those years ago or is it an imposter just angling for some pet food and a cosy home?
Sony says Aibo – which it now writes as aibo, with a lower-case a – “can form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion”.
Which means that even if you know it’s an imposter, you may end up feeding it and looking after it anyway.
The “natural curiosity” Sony says the new Aibo has is much the same as the old dog, but the company says it has learned some new tricks.
The new Aibo features deep-learning artificial intelligence which will enable it to “develop its own unique personality through everyday interactions as it grows closer and closer to its owners”, claims Sony.
Aibo sports a range of new technology, including inbuilt sensors that can detect and analyze sounds and images, and fish-eye cameras that utilize simultaneous location and mapping technology, which allows it to avoid obstacles and stay in close proximity to its owners.
Other technology the dog has includes:
- 64-bit quad-core central processing unit;
- a total of 22 axes of rotational movement points;
- two eyes made of organic light-emitting diodes;
- four microphones;
- two cameras, with the front one integrating the SLAM technology;
- WiFi; and
- about a dozen sensors for a range of functions.
It also has its bone to chew on, but that’s an optional extra.
Sony’s AI developers say they have programmed the little mutt to connect to the cloud, which will help process the data about interactions, and enable it to better respond.
Sony has also launched an app which has a virtual Aibo and a store, where users can teach or add additional tricks to their robotic pet.
The company is also offering support and other packages, which can cost a maximum of about $15 a month – that’s after the purchase price of just slightly more than $1,700.
You can buy Aibo today on Sony’s website, but it’s probably already sold out.