Sony Teaches Old Dog New Tricks With Relaunch Of Robotic Pup Aibo

On Thursday, Sony announced its decision to relaunch the AI equipped robot pup Aibo into the US.  The introduction took place at a small press event in their New York City headquarters. The decision to offer a limited “First Litter Edition” comes just 9 months after its official relaunch in Japan.  Since that launch Sony has sold over 20,000 units.  Although Sony expects sales to be much more moderate in the US, they are hoping this innovative canine can get them back on the tech map.

The original version of Aibo was first launched back in 1999.  Unfortunately, in 2006 after several models and lackluster sales Sony scrapped the project in hopes of making the company more profitable.

New Puppy Means New Technology

The latest edition of Aibo has been retooled and will come with a hefty price tag of $2,998.  This includes a 3 year AI cloud plan, an assortment of Aibo toys and an individually numbered commemorative dog tag.

With all the technical advancements since the original, Sony’s Vice President & COO Mike Fasulo is confident about its prospects. He describes Aibo as “Artificial Intelligence married to robotics with a personality”.

The robotic canine is equipped and powered by the AI Cloud which will house its memories and help it adapt over time.  Aibo is also armed with a CMOS image sensor which provides it with facial recognition capabilities.  This means it will learn to recognize and interact with its household family members and pets.

Finding its way around the house will be a breeze as Aibo is guided by a wide range of sensors and cameras for geographic area and navigation.  Sony’s hope is that Aibo will explore and discover its new home, just like a real dog would.  Ultra compact actuators allow Aibo to move freely along a total of 22 axes with puppy like precision. All of that combined with two lifelike OLED displays as eyes will have owners convinced it’s the real deal.

One Of A Kind Canine

Aibo’s traits are molded by each family’s individual approach, making every canine uniquely different.  As Sony explains “Aibo learns from its interactions with people, and makes memories that will change its behavior and personality as it goes on.” Aibo will even cuddle and respond to affection, touch and verbal commands.  The goal is to create an emotional bond between Aibo and its owner, developing a real companion type relationship.

Another tool for owners to use is the “My Aibo” app.  Through this app users can change settings, download new tricks and access pictures taken by the robotic pup

See Aibo First Hand

If you want to see Aibo before it goes on sale, you can visit Sony Square in NYC.  Aibo will be exhibited there from August 24th – October 14th. With delivery scheduled before the holidays, Sony is hoping to create a buzz that will get them back in the conversation with tech giants like Apple and Samsung.