Sony is re-launching Aibo, the robot dog first launched over a decade ago in 1999. The new version comes with a host of new features and updated technology, such as, the robot dog can have an emotional bond with members of the household and give them love, care and affection just like a real pet.

Robot dog
Image Source: Sony (screenshot)

Robot dog – what all it can do?

Sony’s Aibo is powered with ultra-compact actuators, allowing the dog to move along 22 axes. Further, the Japanese firm has also brightened the eyes of the dog with two OLED panels to show a range of expressions. On full charge, Aibo can function for two hours with a three-hour recharge time.

To access and enhance the AI tendencies of the pet, one needs to subscribe to the available plans, and use it with My Aibo app (on iOS, Android and the web). The subscription also lets you control the settings, access photos and play and connect with the virtual version of the dog. Owners will also be able to buy tricks from the Aibo store.

The pre-order price for the robot dog is set at 179,000 yen (about US$1,739) on Sony’s online store in Japan, and shipments would start January 11, 2018. For now, Aibo will come with one accessory, the Aibone, which will cost 2,980 yen extra.

Sony confident of Aibo’s success

The revival of Aibo can be credited to the chief executive officer, Kazuo Hirai, who has been working on turning the company around since 2012. In his capacity, Hirai has pushed the engineers and marketers to experiment with new ideas such as digital aroma dispensers, to 3-D sensors that can see the world, notes Bloomberg.

“Sony’s mission, and reason for existence, is to be a company that piques people’s curiosity,” Hirai said at a press conference in Tokyo. “I’m convinced that a robot that can connect with a family, and give them joy, is an embodiment of Sony’s mission, and therefore asked for the development of aibo a year and a half ago.”

Sony sold around 150,000 Aibo’s in Japan after it was launched in 1999. However, the company had to stop the production after seven years. “It was a difficult decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics,” Hirai said. The Japanese electronics giant aims to sell a substantial number of Aibo this time. The company is also looking to expand the reach of the robot dog and sell globally.

Expects best-ever annual profit

Separately, Sony cheered the investors by lifting its full-year operating income forecast on Tuesday. The company now expects the highest ever profit on the back of robust sales of image sensors used in smartphones and other devices. Hirai has played an important role in turning around the business by refocusing on image sensors and games. As a result, the stock price of the company rocketed to a nine-year high.

Going forward, Sony is trying to gain a foothold in the automotive segment as the demand for sensor technology is set to increase with self-driving technology taking the main stage.