Eighteen years after unveiling its original Aibo robot dog, and 11 years after putting it down, Sony has revived the product using advanced mechatronics and AI to create a cuter, smarter, and more lifelike version.
The new “entertainment robot” goes by the same name as its predecessor, aibo, but its name is written in lower case. The robot itself is crammed with ultracompact 1- and 2-axis actuators specially designed by Sony. These actuators enable aibo’s body to move along a total of 22 axes. This makes for smoother, more natural movements—such as ear and tail wagging, as well as mouth, paw, and body motions—compared to the original Aibo.
The new robot dog is also equipped with a fisheye camera in the nose and a second camera near the rear that both work with sensors to detect and analyze sounds and images, and help aibo recognize its owners faces. Simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technology allows aibo to adapt to its environment.
Controlling all of this is a 64-bit quad-core CPU. The robot’s power consumption is rated at 14 watts and the battery has a life of about 2 hours.
Sony has incorporated an OLED in each eye to enhance its expressiveness. The robot weighs 2.2 kg and measures 180 mm x 293 mm x 305 mm (width, height, and depth) when standing.
The robot doesn’t come cheap at 198,000 yen (approx. $1,750). In addition, users must subscribe to an online plan to get the full range of aibo features and settings. These include access to photos taken by aibo and to an aibo store where owners can download apps, as well as a virtual version of aibo they can control with a smartphone. A three-year basic plan costs 90,000 yen or about $800. A support and care subscription that discounts repairs by 50 percent is also available for 54,000 yen ($475).