Sony's Pet Dog for the Super Rich Returns

Sony Corp’s President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai holds entertainment robot ‘aibo’ at a news conference in Tokyo

But now it's back with computer smarts that not only provide the new Aibo dog with the ability to respond to human commands, but loads the robot with fish-eye cameras and a suite of embedded sensors so it can better figure out what's going on around it through sound and sight.

To develop new profit drivers, the firm also boosted investment in artificial intelligence and is expanding its consumer products portfolio. The price tag is still every bit as astronomical as it was in the early 2000s, mind, with a Japanese RRP of around £1,300.

According to a statement made by Sony: "Aibo can form an emotional bond with new members of the household while providing them with love, affection and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion".

Unfortunately, it won't be released in time for the holidays - it's due out on January 11, 2018 - and no plans for availability outside of Japan have been announced.

Sony is bringing back its iconic robotic dog, aibo.




This latest version of Aibo certainly looks more like a dog than its predecessors, with a more rounded appearance compared the blocky nature of the dogs of old. It will also be web-enabled, to support more complex cloud-driven capabilities. Over the next few years, Sony launched two more Aibo generations, but interest waned as more affordable robots entered the market.

In a news briefing to introduce AIBO, Sony's Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said "It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics".

"I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop (new) AIBO because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realise Sony's mission (to inspire)".

The technology is based on work done by Cogitai, a California-based startup developing AI software that learns continually from real-world interactions. The firm also established a venture capital fund to build partnerships with AI start ups and robotics as well as researchers. Aibo, short for "artificially intelligent robot", was first introduced in 1999.

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