We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
80,259 News Articles

Sony unveils latest Aibo

New Aibo robot pet more Metal Mickey than moggy

Sony unwrapped its latest Aibo entertainment robot yesterday, a futuristic-style model that looks more like a cheap knock-off of previous versions than the cuter, cuddlier models released recently.

Below the neck, the new model — the ERS-220 — bares a resemblance to Sony's first-edition Aibo, the ERS-110, and its successor, the ERS-210, but from the neck up things are drastically different. Aibo's new head, complete with 21 flashing lights and a retractable headlight, makes the new model a lot more robot-like than pet-like.

"That's really what the Aibo is — a robot and not a puppy dog or a cat," said Jon Piazza, a spokesman for Sony. "The general public thought of [Aibo] as a replacement for a pet and it really never was intended as that."

Hardware-wise, the other main changes beyond the style are in the number of joints. The new Aibo has no moveable ears or a tail and so offers 16 degrees of freedom compared to 20 on the previous model.

On the software side, Sony has updated the Aibo system software to allow for a 75-word vocabulary and enhanced photo-taking capability. A new package, Aibo Step, lets users change the noise the robot makes when it walks, and a second new package, Aibo Boost, causes the robot to become excited, curious or alert when communication with its owner goes well.

Like the ERS-210, the ERS-220 is built around a modular design, in which the head and legs clip on to a central body which houses all of the control circuitry and main battery unit. Because of this, owners of the ERS-210 will be able to buy a kit of new body parts that can be attached to the central unit of their Aibo to transform it into a unique pet. The kit will be available in December, said Piazza.

The robot-like form of the ERS-220 is in sharp contrast to the rounder, cuter styling of Latte and Macaron, which were announced in September. Those robots are Sony's first attempt at cracking the young-working-woman market and are modelled after bear cubs to appeal to women in their 20s, said the company.

The ERS-220 model will be available this month in the US and Sony is already accepting advance orders on its website — like the previous model, the new version costs around £1,050 plus VAT. Sony also plans sales in other regions.

IDG UK Sites

Android M Developer Preview announced at Google I/O: Android M UK release date and new features. Wh?......

IDG UK Sites

Why I think the Apple Watch sucks and you'd be mad to buy it

IDG UK Sites

Ben & Holly's Game of Thrones titles spoof is delightfully silly

IDG UK Sites

Mac OS X 10.11 release date rumours: all the new features expected in Yosemite successor