Sony Corp. said Wednesday it will resurrect Aibo, the robot-dog that inspired a cult following even after it was discontinued over a decade ago. The electronics giant said the new, artificial intelligence-powered Aibo is set to go on sale on Jan. 11 for ¥198,000. New owners will also need to dish out ¥90,000 (or ¥2,500 a month) for a minimum three-year plan to access cloud-based services that will allow the robot-dog to learn tricks and get accustomed to its environment. "Today I am pleased to introduce an entertainment robot we have been developing for the past year and a half that's worthy of love and is a delight to nurture through emotional connections with people," Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said during a news conference at the company's headquarters in Tokyo. The original Aibo was released in 1999 and was discontinued in 2006.
More than a decade ago, Sony stunned the world with the release of Aibo, an artificially intelligent robot that behaved like a real dog. But the robo-dogs were discontinued in 2006 as part of a massive cost-cutting scheme from the Japanese technology giant. Now, Sony has revived Aibo, a robot that learns how to interact with its owner and is'capable of building loving relationships', according to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai. The new version of the 30-centimetre (one foot) hound will launch in Japan in January but will not come cheap, priced at around £1,300 ($1,750). Sony has revived Aibo, a robot that learns how to interact with its owner and is'capable of building loving relationships', according to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai.
Sony shares rose more than 11% on Wednesday to a nine-year-high. The new Aibo features improved artificial intelligence software and enhanced motors and sensors that help the robot better resemble a real dog. The company said each device will develop unique behavior patterns depending on owner interactions and can work with other internet-connected electronics. The Aibo will be released first in Japan and cost ¥198,000 (about $1,700). New owners will also need to pay about $25 a month for cloud services to provide their devices with remote updates for things like teaching the robot new tricks.
The new "entertainment robot" goes by the same name as its predecessor, aibo, but its name is written in lower case. The robot itself is crammed with ultracompact 1- and 2-axis actuators specially designed by Sony. These actuators enable aibo's body to move along a total of 22 axes. This makes for smoother, more natural movements--such as ear and tail wagging, as well as mouth, paw, and body motions--compared to the original Aibo. The new robot dog is also equipped with a fisheye camera in the nose and a second camera near the rear that both work with sensors to detect and analyze sounds and images, and help aibo recognize its owners faces.