Published: Thu, November 02, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Sony revives adorable robot canine companion

Sony revives adorable robot canine companion

Japan's Sony Corp unveiled on Wednesday (November 1) a new robot dog called "Aibo", a successor to its former popular robot dog with the same name that went defunct in 2005. The developers improved model of the robot, said that despite a number of additional features and improvements, the main task of the robot is to be the favorite person, to play and to amuse his master.

The original Aibo was released in 1999 as an entertainment robot, although it gained popularity among robotics researchers and early e-sports with Robocup Aibo football matches.

Aibo is a rebooted version of a device Sony first launched in the 1990s - and the Japanese company has made it appealingly un-robotic.

In 2006, veteran Sony engineer Toshitada Doi threw a mock funeral for Aibo, after the firm axed his pet project for being superfluous, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Aibo has built-in sensors that can detect sounds and images, and fish-eye cameras functioning like eyes that allow it to stay near its owner.

A basic three-year subscription plan costs 2,980 JPY ($26) per month (or ~$790 if you pay up-front for the full three years).

The revamped device is created to move and act more like a real dog, and over time to develop its own distinct personality.

Aibo recognises and responds to voice commands, and can also be programmed. In a bid to break into the growing artificial intelligence market, Sony is aiming to steal a march on the likes of Alphabet's Google, Apple and Facebook with the revival of Aibo.

Aibo will be released in Japan in January 2018 with a price of JPY198,000 ($1,738).

The word "aibo" means companion, or buddy, in Japanese. "Further, with its owners' permission, aibo can collect data from these interactions, then connect to the cloud and access the knowledge accumulated from interactions between different owners and their aibo to become even more clever".

Speaking at a launch event for its rebooted Aibo robopup today, Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai said: "It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics".

Sony said in May 2016 that it was keen to build up its artificial intelligence business and it has invested in the AI start-up Cogitai.

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