Sony on Thursday announced it’s bringing its refreshed Aibo robot dog to the US.
The new gadget will use sophisticated cameras and sensors to map your house, so it can easily move around and go to its charging station on its own. It will also recognize up to 100 faces and remember interactions with people, allowing its artificial intelligence engine to develop a unique personality that changes over time, according to Sony.
The new edition will be available to purchase in September for $2,899 and will be bundled with three years of Sony’s AI Cloud service as well as a variety of toys, including a pink ball, an “Aibone,” paw pads, and a charging station. The AI Cloud allows Aibo to send its daily activity back to Sony’s servers, which the company claims help shape the robot’s personality and let owners stay connected with their Aibo over Wi-Fi or LTE through AT&T. The dog likely won’t ship until closer to the holidays, however, so prepare for a long wait.
The original Aibo offered a way for Sony to showcase some of its latest technologies, including a proprietary operating system and advanced robotics. Over the years, the dogs became more sophisticated, able to take pictures using cameras behind its eyes, play music and speak 1,000 words.
The new dog serves a similar purpose. It includes 4,000 parts, 22 actuators, OLED-screen eyes, the same kinds of AI used for self-driving cars and sensors that allow it to move around. Using all these features, Aibo can more accurately mimic a real dog’s actions and learn new tricks when interacting with its owner, bark, detect words of praise and smiles, and respond to touch when someone pets it on its head, on its back and under its chin.
The Aibo helped inspire the creation of many cheaper copycat robot pets, but the market for these companions remains small. Twelve years after Aibo was discontinued, one of the few popular devices that can be described as a home robot is iRobot’s Roomba, which is an automated vacuum cleaner, not a robo-buddy.
This is a limited edition product, although Sony hasn’t said exactly how many units are being made. So if you’re dead set on owning a robot dog, be ready for that preorder link soon.