As rumored, AIBO is back. After more than a decade away, Sony has decided to resurrect its iconic robot pet brand with a brand new model simply called “Aibo” (model number ERS-1000).
Sony claims the new Aibo “can form an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” It uses ultra-compact actuators that allow its body to move along 22 axes, and its eyes use two OLED panels to show a range of expressions. Battery life is rated at around two hours, with a three-hour recharge time.
Sony says Aibo’s behavior is adaptable, with the dog seeking out owners, learning what makes them happy, and gradually growing accustomed to wider environments. It uses deep learning technology to analyze the sounds and images coming through Aibo’s array of sensors, and uses cloud data to learn from the experiences of other Aibo units and owners.
A lot has happened in the world of tech since Aibo dogs were last on sale, and the new model accordingly has some changes. There’s an app called My Aibo that is used to access settings, view photos taken from the dog’s camera, and download additional “tricks” from a store. Aibo also now requires a subscription, like SoftBank’s Pepper, running 2,980 yen a month (about $26) for a minimum of three years. This gives you Wi-Fi and LTE connectivity, cloud backup, and access to the app’s features.
Also for 2,980 yen, Sony is selling this bone accessory called “Aibone.” Yes.
The new Aibo is available to pre-order in Japan today and will go on sale on January 11th, 2018; there aren't any plans yet to release it outside of Sony's homeland. It costs 198,000 yen, or about $1,700, as well as the monthly subscription — but what price can you put on cloud-powered robot companionship?