Sony's Aibo robotic dog is back, with new tricks for AI era

02 November, 2017, 00:51 | Author: Yolanda Murray
  • Sony Corp’s President and Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai holds entertainment robot ‘aibo’ at a news conference in Tokyo

It comes with an array of sensors, cameras and microphones and boasts internet connectivity, allowing owners to play with the pet remotely via smartphone.

The new Aibo will be priced at 198,000 JPY (around $1,733), but buyers will also need to purchase a three-year subscription plan, priced at 90,000 JPY ($788), to use it. Pre-orders kick off today and the pup is slated to arrive on January 11. Shares in Sony Corp have soared to a nine-year high and the company has forecast record earnings, some 20 per cent above its current profit record set two decades ago.

The original was advanced for its time, responding to commands and meant to recognise its owners.

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"It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics", Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said at a news briefing. The central part of the robots' eyes are made of organic electroluminescence displays that can display bright colors, so it has a range of facial expressions. Aibo, meaning partner in Japanese (but which neatly also stands for AI bot), had new models released every year until 2005.

Sony is aiming to sell more of the devices, exceeding the previous generation's 150,000 units, according to Izumi Kawanishi, executive vice president. Sony hasn't announced a launch date for the USA market yet.

It unveiled its Xperia Hello! voice-activated communication robot this month and on Wednesday said it was reviving its robotic dog AIBO that went on sale in 1999.

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In 2016, it invested an undisclosed sum in US-based Cogitai, an AI startup focusing on technology that allows machines to learn continually and autonomously from interaction in the real world.

Also this morning, Sony announced a corporate strategy to concentrate efforts in artificial intelligence and robotics and offer more products powered by these technologies in the future. The firm also established a venture capital fund to build partnerships with AI start ups and robotics as well as researchers.

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Insiders have sold 541,177 shares of company stock valued at $85,864,804 over the last three months. The stock was sold at an average price of $157.58, for a total transaction of $5,515,300.00.

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