When Sony first released the Aibo in 1999, the animatronic pup sold out within 20 minutes of its launch. Understandably. With its floppy-ish ears and well-timed tilts of the head, the robot passed for a beagle, albeit one that was made from silver plastic and didn’t poop.
Sony continued to sell the Aibo for several more years, incrementally improving on its technological dogginess until 2006, when Sony discontinued Aibo. Over a decade later, the robotic pup is back and for sale in the U.S. for the first time since 1999.
The new generation of Aibo is greatly improved in terms of sheer dog-likeness. It’s like Aibo trotted into Pixar and emerged a full puppy dog-eyed robot. This time around the robot is connected to the cloud, where its behavior is dictated by constantly learning AI. According to Sony, the Aibo’s personality is formed by its interactions with its owner, like a walking, woofing Tamagotchi.
Using its suite of internal sensors, the companion puppy will react to seasons and weather, learn new tricks, and use its nose camera (plus facial recognition) to seek out its owner. The robotic dog starts at $2,900, which yes, is expensive. But then again, it’s a small price to pay for unconditional loyalty and adoration.