For those friends who aren’t ready to commit to a life of joy and laughs and get a dog, a company just released an alternative.
Sony just relaunched its robotic dog Aibo. Using artificial intelligence and loads of other technology, the dog is pretty smart and absolutely adorable – for a robot.
The dog originally made its debut 18 years ago, only to stop production in 2006 – due to sluggish sales and costly part replacements. (The Japanese did not take this news well, with some having full-on funerals for their Aibo.)
The new version can do a number of dog-like things, including move like a realistic pup. For the nerds out there, the dog moves on 22 axes, making his movement more natural than the predecessor. Just like a real dog, Aibo can wag his tail, tilt his head, move his ears, paw and open his mouth. He also can chase a ball, has the capability to learn new tricks and can give his owner a high-five. The AI part helps Aibo learn his likes and dislikes, recognize new faces and understand when he is in trouble.
Aibo also has a camera in his snout and near his backside to help him understand his surroundings, recognize his owner and acclimate to his environment. The camera, sensors and technology can help Aibo understand praise, respond to petting and allow for a bond to form with the owner.
Check out Aibo in action:
The dog also comes with other features, outside of its four-legged body. All of Aibo’s data will live in the cloud, and if people choose, they can access it, along with data from other Aibos, so people can “teach” their own robotic dog other behaviors.
Sony said the target demographic for Aibo is for older people who are lonely – their kids may have moved out of their home, they lost their partner or don’t have a pet.
But this robotic companionship doesn’t come cheap. Aibo will cost 198,000 yen, or about $1,750. And someone wants the subscription plan, expect to tack on another 90,000 yen (approximately $800) for a 3-year-plan. For those that want a discount on repairs, Sony will also offer and support and care subscription for 54,000 yen, or $475.
Aibo will be available for purchase in January of 2018 but only in Japan (where the robotic dog was the most popular). Sony is hoping to sell at least 150,000 Aibos (the number it sold for its first version before Sony retired it.)
While some people may be excited about not having to spend money on feeding a dog, not worrying about taking one for walks or concerned about covering vet bills, the unconditional love and cuddles you get from a dog is priceless – and can’t be imitated by a robotic dog.