Hello Aibo, goodbye Alexa: Sony turns robot dog into AI assistant

That robotic dog you wanted as a kid is back. And sadly, it’s just as expensive.

Sony had announced that after more than a decade since retiring its robot dog product, the Aibo will be coming back for real.

Image: aibo/sony/screenshot

The new Aibo has also learnt some new tricks. Its AI capability will allow it to learn and recognise people’s faces, and remember and avoid obstacles in a room.

It’ll also be voice-capable and cloud connected, being able to record photos and save them online. For example, saying “take a picture” will trigger the Aibo to take a shot and send it to the cloud, accessible later from a companion app. 

“Aibo’s AI learns from interactions with owners and develops a unique personality over time,” says Sony on its website. “With its owner’s permission, Aibo can collect data from these interactions and…become even more clever.”

But with a hefty price tag of $1,740 (¥198,000), Sony’s certainly betting that people are willing to shell out for the nostalgia of the device.

You’ve also got to pay $21 (¥2,500) per month for Aibo’s cloud subscription service, which includes backup and access to the Aibo app.

Aibo with its Aibone.

Image: sony

The Aibo will also come with a bone — a smart one, naturally — called the Aibone (I know right.) That’ll set you back another $22 (¥2980).

But of course, you’re not really paying for a pet, but an AI device.

The Aibo’s battery life reportedly lasts around two hours, and takes three hours to recharge.

Image: aibo/sony/screenshot

The new Aibo is ready for pre-order — but only if you’re in Japan, and will start shipping on Jan. 11.

If you’re not in Japan, though, you’ll just have to make do with a real dog for now.