Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet

The Best Robot Dog and Pet – Sony Aibo

Robot dogs, like robotic pets in general, bring the best of both worlds into one: The joys of having a pet dog– without the maintenance required– plus entire new robotic abilities not possible with the organic version.

Aibo (Sony) – Everyone’s Favorite Robot Dog is Back with Modern Technology

Sony made history in 1999 when it first introduced the consumer model of its robot dog called Aibo. New models would be released every year since until 2006 and would come in form factors inspired not just by dogs but sometimes also the likes of space explorers and robo-lion cubs.

It quickly became a hit, with its adorable pups gracing homes in Japan before hitting the U.S. and worldwide, and getting much press and publicity for a long time, long before worldwide interest in A.I. hit the mainstream, and being the most sophisticated robopets available.

Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet - Front View with Camera in Nose
Image: Sony

Sony would discontinue the production of Aibo in 2006 citing a need to optimize profits and would continue supporting it until 2014.

This also happened to be the time when the growth, interest, and advances in artificial intelligence and robotics would come to a head and begin a growth explosion in earnest, with companies working around the clock to embed AI into everyone’s lives and bring a new era of tech advances.

 

On November 2017, much to the relief of fans, Sony relaunched with a more advanced version of the Aibo after 11 years, now in its fourth generation, the ERS-1000. Starting January 11, 2018, it started rolling out the unit to continual sale lotteries to buyers.

And thus far, for the relatively few units they were able to deliver to resoundingly high demand, the general consensus is a success by all measures. People are loving it, and vindicated Sony’s decision to continue its research and development of AI even after they discontinued the Aibo line previously. This new version fulfills Sony’s mission of building loving relationships with people in a way Apple seems to have outdone everyone else with their products.

The new Aibo isn’t a complete standalone unit, however. Apart from the purchase of the unit, you will also need a subscription plan to connect to the cloud service that powers its AI. It ranges from around ~$26 for the monthly subscription, or ~$790 if you pay up-front for the full 3 years.

Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet
Image: Sony

It even has an extended support care plan (charged separately, of course), sounding like them taking a page from Apple’s playbook (with the extended warranties) at discounted rates for checkups in the off chance of malfunctions or any type of damage. Hey’s it’s a robot dog, so you have to pony up for the robot vet.

Aibo’s battery is good for two hours of activity before it’ll need a recharge on its charging mat (taking three hours to be fully juiced).

Under the hood, Aibo is powered by a 64bit Quad-Core CPU, with LTE and Wifi (b/g/n).

Aibo has 22 degrees of freedom, with OLED screens for eyes, giving Aibo a range of puppy dog eyes magic.

Check it out from Sony

 

Review and Rating

Aibo
4.4 / 5 Reviewer
{{ reviewsOverall }} / 5 Users (0 votes)
Pros
  • Adorable and lovable, just like the earlier versions
  • More advanced than older generations
  • The face of expression and emotion. New look with puppy dog eyes
  • Currently has abilities you'd expect from a modern articulate personal, pet robotic product such as environmental awareness, voice commands, ability to patrol, face recognition, and more
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Monthly subscription is required; It's Sony's efforts toward a recurring revenue model
  • Good A.I., but may not be perfect for all tasks. It may not exactly be at par or exceed modern or cutting edge generations from other companies, but perhaps it's by design because Aibo is not meant to be a complete robotic assistant, but more of a focus on being a lovable companion, it's owners' best friend that just happens to be engineered rather than born
Summary
There are plenty of robopets out there, but there is only one, penultimate, robot dog, and it's Aibo. The new generation builds not only on its long (in dog and computing terms) history, but draws upon modern technology to refresh a line that is as impressive now as then, and as natural as owning a pet. This likely hits all the targets Sony has set, and definitely hits the bullseye in the hearts of each unit's owners.
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Editor’s Rating: *1/2
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Overview

Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet
Image: Sony
  • Model: ERS-1000 (Ivory White)
  • Processor: 64bit Quad-Core CPU
  • Freely Movable Parts: Head:3 axes, Mouth:1 axis、Neck:1 axis, Loin:1 axis, Forepaws/Back paws:3 axes per leg, Ear:1 axis per ear, Tail:2 axes (Total of 22 axes)
  • Display: 2 OLEDs (eyes)
  • Sound: Speaker and 4 Microphones
  • Camera: 2 (Front camera + SLAM camera)
  • Sensors: Multiple, including motion sensors, light sensors, paw pads, pressure sensitive capacitive touch sensors in the head, jaw, neck, torso; and axis detection system that include gyro and axis acceleration
  • Communications : LTE, Wi-Fi:IEEE 802.11 b/g/n (2.4GHz)
  • Dimensions : (standing excluding protruding parts) 180 × 293 × 305 mm
  • Weight : 2.2 kg
  • Power Consumption: 14 W
  • Battery Duration: ~2 hours
  • Recharge Time: ~ 3 hours

 

 

Product Highlights

Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet
Image: Sony

Though the Aibo is a lot of fun to have and has improved a lot from its earlier siblings, and is still among the best looking, most polished robo-products for consumers today, it still seems to have some limitations when compared to the more advanced types of bots available at large.

It therefore only obeys what amounts to a handful of commands, but the company does insist it’s still a growing database and that there will be plenty of improvement as updates trickle in.

It does give us the impression that although it was an advanced machine pet in its earlier iterations, and still keeps owners smiling today, it seems to be using older paradigms of A.I. and not the ones increasingly in widespread use today that utilize machine learning more than rote database-style approaches, no matter how advanced. A particularly important point given its price tag, and a monthly subscription that is required.

Sony has yet to announce plans to make Aibo available outside Japan, but hopefully, it uses that time to iron out its quirks and build on the most recent advances in A.I. It is said to be going big on A.I. so expect Aibo to be the opening salvo in its intention to finally join the A.I. fray in earnest.

As Sony insists, it’s still early days for the new generation Aibo, and it will continue to grow and get smarter over time, hopefully bringing it back to its former glory at the cutting edge of robopets. This time improving alongside whole new AI ecosystems and emerging industries having grown to stand upon and call its peers.

Sony Aibo Robot Dog and Pet
A line to the future: Aibo line of older siblings. Image: Sony

The Good: What We Like

It’s a refined and high quality product that works as originally intended to be an autonomous robopup updated to the modern world of advancing A.I., including being able to do things you may expect a modern autonomous automaton would do like patrolling your home like a dog, controlling smart home appliances in the age of the Internet of Things (IoT), all while responding to voice commands like Amazon’s Alexa would do, making it like a pet version of Amazon’s Echo line of speakers.

The Bad: What We Don’t Like

Though it’s a relaunch of an old favorite, at the moment this newness shows, including a more limited array of abilities and commands you’d expect when comparing it to advanced robotic devices and considering its price range approaching $2,000 and coming with a low (but still recurring) monthly subscription.

Conclusion

Not a complete standalone unit. Apart from the purchase of the unit, you will also need a subscription plan to connect to the cloud service that powers its AI. It ranges from around ~$26 for the monthly subscription, or ~$790 if you pay up-front for the full 3 years.

A basic three-year subscription plan costs 2,980 JPY ($26) per month (or ~$790 if you pay up-front for the full three years). It even has an extended support care plan (charged separately, of course, sounding like taking a page from Apple’s playbook with the extended warranties) at discounted rates for checkups in the off chance of malfunctions or any type of damage. Hey’s it’s a robot dog, so you have to pony up for the robot vet.

Aibo’s battery is good for two hours of activity before it’ll need a recharge on its charging mat (taking three hours to be fully juiced).

Under the hood, Aibo is powered by a 64bit Quad-Core CPU, with LTE and Wifi (b/g/n).

Aibo has 22 degrees of freedom, with OLED screens for eyes, giving Aibo a range of puppy dog eyes magic.

Aibo is chosen as one of the best home robots in our roundup. Check it out here.

 

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