Sony first introduced Aibo, its robotic puppy toy, in 1999. It was discontinued in 2006. Then, last November, Aibo made a comeback in Japan, updated with modern trimmings like Wi-Fi connectivity and location mapping. The new model cost 198,000 yen (about $1,800), plus an additional 90,000 yen (about $800) for a three-year subscription to a cloud service. Now, Aibo is coming to America in a $2,899 "Limited First Litter Edition Release" that includes the robo-puppy itself, a subscription to the requisite cloud service, and some bonus items.
In addition to the cyber pup and its Wi-Fi brains, your $2,899 nabs you a commemorative dog tag and a fun assortment of toys. Aibo has a bunch of tiny motors in its body that allow it "to move along a total of 22 axes," as well as high-quality camera sensors in its eyes that let it map and navigate its surroundings. Sony says its Wi-Fi connectivity allows each Aibo unit to learn "tricks" and develop its own unique personality over time based on how owners interact with them.
AT&T will provide LTE connectivity for Aibo in the US, allowing owners to take it places where there isn't Wi-Fi. The carrier hasn't provided pricing information, however.
While there's a good chance $2,899 is less than the lifetime cost of owning a real dog (assuming you'd be feeding it and addressing its medical needs), it's an awful lot of money for a toy. Still, it's a pretty neat one. Aibo will be on display at Sony Square NYC tomorrow through October 14. Sony didn't say exactly when it'll be available, but it should be ready in time for the holidays.
Whether you've got nasty allergies, a deep-seated affinity for robots, or just an excessive amount of disposable income lying around (you poor soul), Sony's new Aibo is now available for pre-order. Shipments should start in a few months, with the pups arriving at users' doorsteps in early December.
Sony Announces Limited First Litter Edition Release of aibo in U.S.
— Iconic Robot Brand Returns with Integrated Artificial Intelligence and
Cloud Connectivity, Enabling Each aibo to Develop a Unique Personality —
NEW YORK — August 23, 2018 — Sony Electronics Inc. today revealed plans to offer a special First Litter Edition of its acclaimed aibo autonomous robotic “puppy” companion in the United States. Following the
recent reintroduction of aibo in Japan, Sony’s First Litter Edition for the U.S. will be a limited, all-in-one aibo bundle that includes the aibo 1 , a three-year AI Cloud Plan 2 , a fun assortment of aibo toys, and an individually numbered commemorative dog tag.
First introduced in 1999, the latest design of aibo is the sixth generation of Sony’s beloved companion robot. Unlike previous versions, it pairs cutting-edge robotics with a new, cloud-connected artificial intelligence (AI) engine and advanced image sensors, giving aibo the ability to learn and recognize faces. As aibo interacts with people over time, it develops its own unique personality through everyday interactions, enabling it to remember what actions make its owner happy and form a deep bond with members of the household. No two aibo companion robots are the same. Each owner’s approach to raising their aibo shapes its personality, behavior and knowledge, creating a unique environment for growth. In fact, aibo is able to learn new tricks through owners’ interactions, experiences with changing seasons and different events. Not content to sit and wait to be beckoned, aibo will actively seek out its owners and can recognize their faces. It can also detect words of praise and smiles, as well as react to being petted or scratched on the head.
“This is truly a one-of-a-kind product designed to connect with its owners on an emotional level,” said Mike Fasulo, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics North America. “aibo’s charming personality, dog-like behaviors and ability to intelligently interact with family members help to create a personal bond. Bringing aibo back to the U.S. reflects Sony’s broader commitment to provide consumers with products that not only entertain them, but also enrich their lives.”
To create such a loveable, expressive and life-like robo-puppy, Sony integrated a wide range of sensors, cameras and actuators to bring aibo to life. Ultra-compact 1- and 2-axis actuators give aibo's body the freedom to move along a total of 22 axes. Its adaptable behavior is made possible through deep learning AI technology in the form of built-in sensors that can detect and analyze sounds and images. aibo’s whimsical body language is expressed through a combination of eye, ear, and tail movements, as well as different voice sounds. In addition, two OLED displays are utilized for aibo’s eyes and give the appearance of blinking and closing, allowing for diverse, nuanced expressions.
Like any pup, aibo enjoys playing with a variety of toys. Sony’s First Litter Edition aibo will arrive with a pink ball, an “aibone,” paw pads and charging station. Users can also take their aibo experience to the next level with the “My aibo” app. In addition to accessing system settings and owner information, the app’s handy user interface allows owners to check out and share their aibo’s pictures, as well as add “tricks” to its repertoire. The app is packed with fun-filled features—even for people who don’t have an aibo of their own.
The three-year AI Cloud Plan included in the First Litter Edition bundle enables aibo to upload its day-to-day life experiences to Sony’s leading-edge AI engine. This database of memories is accessed to form each aibo’s unique personality, which grows and evolves over time. The aibo AI Cloud Plan also enables users to enjoy the full range of aibo features via Wi-Fi connection at home or a mobile connection on the go.
Sony’s latest generation aibo is one of the products of the Company’s broader commitment to technology innovation, particularly in the areas of AI, robotics and image sensing. This commitment has enabled Sony to achieve other innovations in these areas, such as its Neural Network Console, an integrated software development environment for creating deep learning programs for artificial intelligence; Sony’s recent agreement with Carnegie Mellon University to collaborate on artificial intelligence and robotics research; and the introduction of a compact CMOS image sensor with resolution rivaling SLR cameras.
By looking for new ways to bring joy to people lives through technology innovation, such as with aibo, Sony is staying true to its philosophy of Kando – creating an emotional connection with Sony’s customers. Similarly, the company has designed aibo’s packaging from 50 percent post-consumer recycled plastic as a reflection of its commitment to environmental sustainability.
aibo First Litter Edition with accessory bundle and three-year AI Cloud Plan will be available for purchase in September 2018 at a suggested retail price of $2,899, with delivery in time for the holidays. Additional details will be announced in the coming weeks. To get the latest aibo updates via email and find additional information on fun aibo features and accessories, visit www.sony.com/aibo
aibo will be exhibited at Sony Square NYC from August 24th to October 14th . The exhibit is open to the public and is the only place to experience aibo before it goes on sale.