Back in 1999, Sony released the first model of the unique robot dog AIBO (Artificial Intelligence Robot) - an autonomous robot that “experiences” emotions depending on the situation and learns during “life”. Since then, new models came out every year until 2005, after which they were discontinued due to unprofitability.
Although AIBO was positioned as a home “entertainment robot,” it was widely used in the university environment for education, as well as in robotics. AIBO robots have fallen into many movies, music and advertising clips - and entered into pop culture as a symbol of futuristic technology. In 2006, AIBO was placed
in the Hall of Fame of Carnegie Mellon Robots as "the most complex product ever offered in the consumer robots market."
And now the legend returns. Sony announced the start of sales of the new model AIBO
(model number ERS-1000).
Robot with emotions
AIBO developers pay attention, first of all, to the design and emotions that the robot will cause to its owner (or hostess). He knows how to look with love in his eyes, reacts to stroking and scratching his face, and his eyes blink in different ways, hide behind "eyelids", depending on the feelings that he has at the moment. The eyes themselves are made of OLED displays, and the image is simply drawn on the screen.
The robot is reportedly curious and loves physical contact.
According to the description on the official website, AIBO "can form an emotional bond with family members, providing them with love, affection, and joy from raising and growing a companion." Compact actuators allow the robot to move in 22 degrees of freedom. However, it will not take too long to play with it: the battery life is stated for two hours, and the charging time is three hours.
As before, we teach AIBO, that is, its behavior changes over time. Gradually, he becomes more aware of his master - he understands how to please him, and adapts his actions. That is, the dog seems to grow: the puppy gradually matures.
The official website writes that over time, the robot's temperament will change, in accordance with the habits and temperament of the host. He "can become either a blindly faithful partner, or a wild, mischievous companion, or anything between these extremes." In addition, he is able to master new tricks by contacting his relatives through the cloud service and learning on his own.
Built-in neural network
As before, AIBO has a set of sensors, including temperature, distance, acceleration sensors, a vibration sensor, a video camera, microphones and a speaker. But now the information from these sensors is used as input for the embedded neural network. This neural network handles incoming images and sounds. It is not entirely clear whether the processing is carried out locally or remotely. The fact is that AIBO communicates with cloud hosting, through which it exchanges data and experience with other dogs. Perhaps the neural network in reality is located there.
Together with learning new tricks, AIBO studies the world around it. He learns the characteristics of different objects in the house, which should be avoided and even teaches the shortest routes between different places. Naturally, over time, he learns different people and characters - and accordingly changes his behavior.
Access to the settings of the dog through the application My Aibo. From here, the owner can view the photos taken by the dog and download additional “tricks” from the catalog for him. It is possible that in the future the users themselves will even fill up the catalog of tricks if they manage to teach the dog something unusual - and they want to share these tricks with the others. For example, bring beer from the fridge or bark at cats. Unfortunately, AIBO is now sold with a mandatory subscription of at least three years for 2980 yen per month (about $ 26). For this money, the dog receives Wi-Fi and LTE and a cloud backup. Maybe this time Sony’s attempt to monetize the robot will be more successful.
Reception of pre-orders for a robot in Japan has already begun, and deliveries are promised from January 11, 2018. The cost of a home companion is 198,000 yen, or about $ 1,700, not counting the subscription. The price seems high, but how much are you willing to pay for a real friend? By the way, 18 years ago, AIBO entered the market at an even higher price of 250,000 yen - the first limited batch of 3,000 pieces for in Japan and 2,000 for the USA sold out 20 minutes after the start of sales on the Internet.