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January 9, 2018

Sony Aibo first impressions: old robot dog, new tricks

by John_A

Sony revived its robodog series late last year, offering a limited first run of next-generation Aibos for keen Japanese fans. Despite a killer $1,800 price-tag, the company apparently sold plenty, and those preordered Aibos are finally on their way to their new owners. Finally, the company has brought the new robotic pet out of Japan, and while I could coo in Aibo’s general direction, unfortunately no petting was allowed. Regardless, it was disarmingly cute.

The dog dunderstood a handful of English-language directions, including hand-shaking and commands to sit. The revived Aibo has cute, glassy OLED eyes and a camera inside its nose, which can act as a webcam for your home when you’re away. The robopup contains a quad-core CPU, built-in LTE and WiFi, as well as motors and gyroscopes to augment the 22 different articulated parts. It has speaker for robotic yips and yaps and four microphones to pick up voice commands — something it was capable of doing despite the noise of a packed Sony press event.

Multiple touch-sensitive zones on Aibo’s back, front and head ensured the robot visibly reacted to the Sony-approved robodog handlers, but I’m more interested to see how the robot dog behaves once it learns to differentiate between owners. According to Sony spokesman, your Aibo will begin to learn which humans give the best snuggles, or at least whoever pets it the most.

Dogs may be man’s best friend but Aibo won’t be yours unless you give it some love — no matter how much you paid for it.

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