Sony’s Aibo: The Future of AI and Robotics?
As you know, we really love our tech gadgets, but we love our pets, too. If you have ever seen the Bill & Phil Show, you know that we always include something in the presentation that merges these two loves.
We told you about the ZenCrate, a Wi-Fi-enabled dog house that promises to relieve your pooch’s anxiety during even the fiercest of storms with calming noises and vibration tamping. And for those wayward pets who like to escape their owner’s leash, we sampled the Kyon Pet Tracker, a fancy collar with a GPS tracker and barking silencer, plus a smartphone app for the human. And, of course, Bill loves his Litter-Robot III, a self-cleaning smart litter box for his kitties.
This pet tech is wonderful — if you actually have a pet, that is. What about the busy professional who lives in an urban environment, works irregular hours and travels a lot? Or an elderly person who physically can’t take care of a pet? Or even someone who has a pet allergy? Sony’s Aibo robotic dog — which we saw at the last Consumer Electronics Show — is the perfect “companion” for the busy urbanite who wants to bond with a pet without all the, uh, pet mess.
MAN’S BEST FRIEND?
Up close, our first impression of Aibo was that it looks like a toy. But once it becomes animated and begins to walk, run, wag its tail, look around, roll over, etc., you start reacting as you would with a real pup. This “new” robotic dog is actually just a reboot of a model that Sony introduced back in 1999. This new Aibo is a huge improvement, but it remains to be seen if it will be a hit with its $2,000 price tag and $25 a month maintenance fee. (Nobody said robotic pets would be any cheaper than real ones!)
Sony is clearly hoping its new robot dog will demonstrate its commitment to being a major player in robotics and artificial intelligence. This technology gives Aibo its lifelike characteristics. Thanks to enhanced robotics, Aibo’s movement is more like that of a real dog; it interacts and “grows” due to AI technology that is continually learning and updating the robot’s database of knowledge (hence the monthly fee for maintaining your dog’s intelligence in the cloud).