In 2006, Sony discontinued its AIBO line of robotic dogs as the company tried to streamline and make itself profitable. Now, the Aibo is back (and in fancy new lowercase letters!), and it comes equipped with artificial intelligence, cloud connectivity, photograph cameras, and the ability to adapt to its surroundings. It truly is a Robo-puppy for the 21st century... and also maybe a great spy for Big Brother.
BBC News picked up on the Japanese tech giant's re-release of Aibo, which comes with the tagline "A new story begins." The new story is that Aibo is now ready to learn about its surroundings, grow, and communicate like no other household item. Yes, the little robot dog is obviously cute—especially compared to those "dogs" from Boston Dynamics—but make no mistake about it, it's what's under the plastic skin here that matters.
The new Aibo boasts a wide array of sensors, including, but not limited to, two cameras, four microphones, motion sensors, light sensors, a time-of-flight sensor (allowing it to judge distance based on measuring how long it takes light to bounce off of objects around it) and paw pad sensors. It uses information gathered from these sensors as well as deep learning algorithms to essentially learn how to "grow" as a pet. For example, it can learn what its owners' faces look like and then spot them in a crowd. It also develops personality traits, such as being inquisitive, timid, or even, as Sony says, "mischievous." The new Aibo will also be able to learn about its physical surroundings, allowing it to avoid objects and pick the shortest distances between two points. Also, and this is not a joke: the new Aibo will also apparently love the color pink.
Even if the idea of owning a small robot that can take photos, recognize your face, and record your voice doesn't frighten you, you still have a few barriers between you and the electronic dog of your dreams. For now, the new Aibo will only be sold in Japan, and it's going to cost a 45-degree-head-tilting $1,735. It will also require a monthly payment of $26 for a minimum of three years in order to cover the subscription plan for the cloud computing that powers Aibo's "brains." Additional tricks and behaviors will require purchase through an associated app, and toys, such as the "Aibone" bone, will also be separate purchases.
If none of that puts you off, then it's time to commence Robo-puppy ownership! But there better be no mistreatment alerts, as all of that data will be recorded.
What do you think about this new Aibo? Are you excited to see the return of the ultimate robotic dog, or is this combination of AI and cameras in your home making you feel uneasy? Give us your thoughts in the comments below!
Images: YouTube / Sony