On Wednesday, Sony (NYSE: SNE) announced restructuring plans for their latest robotic dog, AIBO, backed up with artificial intelligence to behave like a real pet that learns and interacts with its owner and surroundings. The new upgrade is equipped with new movement and sensing technologies and advanced AI backed by cloud computing to develop the dog’s personality. Starting price for the newly restructured AIBO will begin at $1,739 in Japan this coming January.
AIBO’s first launch began in 1999, selling about 150,000 dogs in Japan before ending production 7 years later when the consumer electronics business struggled in price wars with Asian competitors.
“It was a difficult decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics,” Kazuo Hirai, Sony’s chief executive officer, said in a news briefing. “I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop (new) AIBO because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realize Sony’s mission (to inspire)."
However, Sony continued their development in AI and robotics to develop a newly improved AIBO to show consumers the company’s mission to inspire and build loving relationships just like a dog would to its owner. The company sees AI growing in every sector, hoping to catch up with major technology firms such as Apple, Google, and Facebook. Furthermore, Sony has invested in a U.S. AI start up called Cogitai that focuses on technology allowing machines to learn autonomously and continually from interaction in the real world. The firm also established a venture capital fund to build partnerships with AI start ups and robotics as well as researchers.