We got a brief glimpse at Sony's sixth-generation Aibo back at CES -- but we couldn't touch it, no matter how adorable it looked, and we didn't know when it would be hitting America. We just knew it wouldn't be cheap, since it landed in Japan last fall for $1,800. At a small press event in New York City today, Sony revealed it's releasing a "first litter" of Aibo for $2,899 in September, with delivery expected before the holidays. That steep price gets you the robot dog, a bunch of accessories and a three-year subscription to Sony's AI Cloud, which will house Aibo's memories and help it learn over time.
Yes, it's still just a very expensive robot dog. But it's one that can learn to recognize your family (including your real life pets) and gain a personality over time. Sony claims no two Aibos will be the same, since they're meant to adapt to your personality and lifestyle. And as we've seen from our preview, Aibo can really move, thanks to 22 actuators and a variety of sensors.
"Aibo is such a remarkable feat when you look at it holistically," said Sony Electronics president and COO Mike Fasulo. "Not only does it incorporate many of our core technologies across many parts of our company — including image sensing; artificial intelligence; advanced robotics; sound and language recognition engines; OLED displays for eyes; cameras for geograph and navigation — it's all of that in one, in addition to a deep learning device."
As part of the bundle, Aibo will come with paw pads, an "aibone," a pink ball and a charging station. (And yes, it's smart enough to get itself charged after playtime.) You'll also be able to track your Aibo's growth, check out photos it takes and teach it new tricks with a mobile app. When it's connected to Sony's AI Cloud, the robot dog will upload its daily experiences, where the company's AI algorithms will help it evolve over time. Aibo will be able to nab online updates automatically -- so ideally, it'll get smarter without much intervention from your part. You'll also be able to take it outside, thanks to AT&T LTE connectivity.
While Japanese customers can pick up Aibo without any cloud subscription, Sony decided to make it a bundle in America so that buyers will get the most out of it. Fasulo admits this isn't a product for many consumers -- instead, it's something for early adopters and people who always need the latest and greatest gear.
"We believe the price we're launching at is a great value, when you look at all things included," he said." We're talking about the future, with AI and learning ... it just gets better as the days and weeks go."