Too Cute to Resist: Sony's New Robot Puppy Carries Big AI Ambition

Sony had to put its previous version of the dog down when its business struggledMore

And it said that it was reviving its robot dog AIBO that first hit the shelves in the late 1990's.

The announcement comes a day after Sony confirmed its renaissance by forecasting its highest-ever profit this financial year, sending its shares surging to a nine-year high, and is part of the company's attempts to rekindle its pioneering prowess after years of restructuring. These eyes are small screens that can give the robotic dog diverse and nuanced expressions, in addition to a rounded silhouette and a mouth that tilts up in a smile.

"It was a hard decision to stop the project in 2006, but we continued development in AI and robotics", Chief Executive Officer Kazuo Hirai said at a news briefing.

Unfortunately, it won't be released in time for the holidays - it's due out on January 11, 2018 - and no plans for availability outside of Japan have been announced.

Sony chief executive Kazuo Hirai pets one of the new Aibo robotic dogs. "I asked our engineers a year and a half ago to develop Aibo because I strongly believe robots capable of building loving relationships with people help realise Sony's mission (to inspire)".

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The robot can also record and take photos of what it experiences, according to its owner's preferences, and can create a database of memories.

Two fish-eye cameras with room mapping capabilities also feature, along with a suite of sensors (including motion, light, pressure and distance), a built-in speaker for yappy sounds and a battery that's said to last for 2 hours before needing to return to its charging station for 3 hours. It invested an undisclosed sum previous year in Cogitai, a U.S.

It is also equipped with artificial intelligence so it can learn how to better communicate with its owners.

The technology is based on work done by Cogitai, a California-based startup developing AI software that learns continually from real-world interactions.

Sony's cutesy toy robot dog first appeared in 1999 before being, ahem, "sent to a farm" in 2006.

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