Sony Aibo Renaissance
Written by Lucy Black   
Saturday, 04 November 2017

Sony has announced a new entertainment robot aimed at families and children that takes the form of a four-footed, tail-wagging friend. Whereas the original AIBO was more robot than dog, the new aibo (all lower case letters) is a cute, friendly puppy.



The original AIBO gained worldwide popularity in its eight year existence, until it was discontinued as part of a cost-cutting exercise in 2006. It had capabilities that were remarkable at the time. It could respond to commands, and would even ignore them in dog-like fashion from time to time, and its ability to move and see led to them being used as soccer-playing robots in the RoboCup competition for some years from 1998.



The new aibo - the word means companion in Japanese - has built on and added to the original set of behaviors to be a more lively and life-like puppy as you can see in Sony's video:



Sony's press release position aibo as an entertainment robot, stating:

aibo can form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion. It possesses a natural curiosity, and we hope it will bring joy into the everyday lives of our customers while growing alongside them as a partner.

Sony explains that combination of rounded appearance, lifelike expressions and body language, expressed with eyes, ears and tail movement, make people want to reach out and pet it. It can also detect and respond to words and facial expressions from its owners as well as having its head and back stroked.  Moreover, aibo will learn - both about the environment and about what make its owners happy. This is thanks to inbuilt sensors that can detect and analyze sounds and images and to fish-eye cameras that utilize simultaneous location and mapping (SLAM) technology. In addition as it can connect to the internet and access Sony’s AI cloud it can learn from other aibos on the network.

Initially aibo is exclusive to Japan where, from January 1, 2018, it will sell for 198,000 yen (currently more than $1,700) before tax. Its owners will also pay a monthly subscription of 2,980 yen a month ($26), for a minimum of three years to access the cloud service and download new features.

Recalling that AIBO was a closed environment, the question developers will be asking is whether there will be any scope for becoming involved with aibo. If Sony has enough success with it within Japan and starts to ship it to the US and other markets it could well have a big uptake. Athough the price tag seems high, it is only twice that of Jibo, the so-called social robot that has initiated its own developer community, and aibo seems far more social and to have a bigger programming potential.


More Information

aibo website

Entertainment Robot "aibo" Announced

AIBO in Robot Hall of Fame 

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Last Updated ( Saturday, 04 November 2017 )