After more than a decade away, Sony’s Aibo pet robot is making a return. The original dog-like robot launched in 1999, while Sony says its followup is “capable of forming an emotional bond with members of the household while providing them with love, affection, and the joy of nurturing and raising a companion.” Its OLED eyes allow for “nuanced” expressions as fisheye cameras see and recognize individual faces while new actuators allow its body to move smoothly along 22 axes. Pre-orders for the new robot begin tonight via Sony’s online store in Japan for 179,000 yen (about $1,739 US), with shipments scheduled to begin on January 11th.
Of course, because this is 2017, not only is the new Aibo powered by AI (that learns and develops a unique personality over time) but it’s also connected to the cloud. An Aibo Basic Plan subscription not only backs up your robot’s unique identity but also turns on the connection for owners to access their remote via WiFi or a mobile connection.
You’ll need the subscription for your pet’s AI tendencies to develop, and use its accompanying My Aibo app (on iOS, Android and the web) to manage settings, access photos it takes and even play with a virtual version of the dog when you’re away. Eventually, you’ll be able to buy new tricks from the Aibo Store, but it’s launching with one accessory — the Aibone.