The Japanese company hopes to revive its innovative spirit with the re-launch of the pioneering robot pet after almost a decade of waiting. Pets are great, but in our modern and hectic life it is very difficult to give them the love and attention they deserve without paying someone else to do so. But what happens if you do not need to feed them, walk them or worry about destroying the house? Maybe that's why Sony brings back its robotic dog Aibo.
Sony, once a pioneer in domestic robots, announced that, after more than a decade, its robot dog pal will return to the shelves with artificial intelligence infused upgrades.
Aibo, an ivory-white, puppy size, 30 cm covered in plastic diving with flapping black ears and waving tail. It is billed as pets that act like a real dog, but use AI, not the instinct of dogs, to learn and interact with its owner and their environment. Aibo has now been updated with a range of sensors, cameras, microphones and Internet connectivity, as well as a more advanced AI compatible with cloud computing to develop the dog’s personality.
It has OLED screens for eyes to show a variety of emotions and a camera in the nose that can take pictures. But the biggest change would be its improved actuator technology that allows it to move more smoothly and naturally like a real dog. Aibo will be able to recognize its owner and run over to them, and detect smiles and words of praise, and discover what actions please its owner.
Aibo will go on sale in January at 198,000 yen (£1,306) in Japan, with an assessment of sales abroad. The announcement came a day after Sony confirmed its increase by forecasting its biggest gain this fiscal year and sending its shares to a maximum of nine years, and is part of the company's attempts to revive its pioneering advantage after years of restructuring.
Sony pioneered entertainment robots with Aibo in June 1999, sold the first installment of 3,000 in just 20 minutes and shipped around 150,000 dogs in Japan before stopping production seven years after, while its core consumer electronics companies struggled in Prices wars with their emerging Asian rivals.
"It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued to develop it in artificial intelligence and robotics," Chief Executive Kazuo Hirai told a news conference. "A year and a half ago I asked our engineers about the development of Aibo because I firmly believe that robots capable of building relationships with people help fulfill Sony's mission.”
Sony said it plans to sell at least as many new Aibo as the original, without giving a deadline, and that it sees Ai as the pillar of future growth, hoping to catch up with likes of alphabets’ Google, Apple and Facebook.
In 2016, the firm invested an undisclosed amount in US- based Cogitai, an AI startup that focus on technology that allows machines to learn continuously and independently of real-world interaction. Sony also established a venture capital fund to establish alliances with researchers and new companies in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Earlier this year, the education arm of Sony launched its first product, Koov, which aims to teach children to program by building and programming robots using plastic blocks.