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By: Nick Gambino

Back at CES 2018 in January, Newswatch got a glimpse of the newly resurrected Sony robot dog, Aibo. Now the promising little furless pet is coming to the U.S, and it can be yours for a mere $2,899.

Until now Aibo has only been available overseas where Sony has been moving an impressive number of units. So, it only makes sense that the Japanese company would next set its sights on the U.S. They just announced that we’ll be able to purchase the little guy in September.

The hefty price tag will most likely deter many from splurging on the novelty item. It’s kind of hard to justify dropping $3,000 on a robot dog when our flesh and blood dogs probably cost half of that. Though Max doesn’t have the built-in sensors and cameras that boost its intelligence, helping it to find its Aibone and identify different family members.

Sony stated that this is a limited edition, so we can assume they know the price tag wouldn’t command a huge portion of the market. If you want to purchase one for your home, you’ll need to jump on it quick before they stop sales in the U.S.

“Sony’s First Litter Edition for the U.S. will be a limited, all-in-one aibo bundle that includes the aibo, a three-year AI Cloud Plan, a fun assortment of aibo toys, and an individually numbered commemorative dog tag,” the announcement stated.

With facial recognition and a cloud-connected AI engine, Aibo is a lot more fun than any of its predecessors that date back to 1999. This one interacts like it knows you. As I mentioned, he can learn and recognize faces but it doesn’t stop there. Aibo continues to learn and develop a personality and set behavior. For example, if you praise it for a particular trick or action, it will pick up on that and perform it more often. It will also actively seek out and engage with the family, instead of waiting for a command. The idea is that it will form a bond with the family like a pet would.

“This is truly a one-of-a-kind product designed to connect with its owners on an emotional level,” the COO of Sony Electronics North America, Mike Fasulo said. “Aibo’s charming personality, dog-like behaviors and ability to intelligently interact with family members help to create a personal bond.”

Now, if this sounds at all creepy, it’s because it is. There’s no replacement for a live dog with a soul. There’s something to say about interacting with someone with an actual intelligence, no matter how limited it might be. Artificial intelligence will always be just that, artificial.

But as far as novelty items go, Aibo seems at the very least entertaining. Just remember, if you give an AI dog an inch, they’ll go a mile. So be careful you don’t start the apocalypse and keep Aibo on a short leash.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.