Old dog, new tricks: Sony unleashes ‘intelligent’ robot pet

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A guest pets Sony’s new Aibo robot at a Sony show room in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. New Aibo is on sale from Jan. 11 in Japan. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
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Sony’s new Aibo robot is displayed at a Sony show room in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. New Aibo is on sale from Jan. 11 in Japan. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
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A guest pets Sony’s new Aibo robot at a Sony show room in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. New Aibo is on sale from Jan. 11 in Japan. (AP/Eugene Hoshiko)
Updated 11 January 2018
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Old dog, new tricks: Sony unleashes ‘intelligent’ robot pet

Tokyo: As Japan celebrates the year of the dog, electronics giant Sony on Thursday unleashed its new robot canine companion, packed with artificial intelligence and Internet connectivity.
The sleek ivory-white puppy-sized “aibo” robot shook its head and wagged its tail as if waking from a nap when it was taken out of a cocoon-shaped case at a “birthday ceremony” held in Tokyo.
Seven-year-old boy Naohiro Sugimoto from Tokyo was among the first to get his hands on the shiny new toy, which he described as “heavy but cute.”
“The dog we had previously died... We bought this robot dog as we wanted a (new) family,” he said.
The 30-centimeter (one-foot) long hound-like machine comes complete with flapping ears and its eyes, made of a cutting-edge light-emitting display, can show various emotions.
Aibo is also fitted with an array of sensors, cameras and microphones and boasts Internet connectivity.
The owner can play with the pet remotely via smartphone and even teach it tricks from the office for the faithful hound to perform when its “master” gets home.
It builds up a “character” by interacting with people and while not always submissive, it is friendly toward those who are kind to it.
What the machine “learns” is stored in the cloud so its “character” can be preserved even in the event of hardware damage.
Photos it takes can also be shared.
But such cutting-edge canine technology does not come cheap, with the aibo costing nearly $3,000 for a three-year package, including software services such as data storage.


Aibo is not the Japanese electronic giant’s first foray into the animal robot entertainment world.
Its earlier robot dog was put to sleep more a decade ago — a victim of business restructuring — shocking fans.
Sony rolled out the first-generation dog in June 1999, with the initial batch of 3,000 selling out in just 20 minutes, despite a hefty price tag of 250,000 yen ($2,200 at current rates).
Over the following years, more than 150,000 units were sold, with numerous models ranging from gleaming metallic-silver versions to round-faced cub-like models.
But by 2006, Sony was in trouble. Its business model was under pressure and it was facing fierce competition from rivals in all fields.
The robot dog, an expensive and somewhat frivolous luxury, had to go.
Yasuyuki Nakamura, another owner of the new generation Aibo — his third robot pet — said he was happy to see the dog back in Sony’s catalogue.
“I had been waiting (for a new aibo). I ordered one as I was happy to see this kind of business was revived,” the 46-year-old said.
A middle-aged couple said they bought the robot for their 25th anniversary this year.
Sony plans to release the new aibo overseas as well but no details are set yet.
The dog does not speak human languages or perform tasks such as turning a light on.
But that is not the point of the product, according to Sony’s Izumi Kawanishi who is in charge of the project.
“You don’t think about what the dog can do when you want to get a dog, do you?,” he asked reporters.
“The point is that it touches a chord (with people),” he said.


King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

The development of the Black Shark smart boat is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision 2030. (SPA)
Updated 20 October 2018
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King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology unveils self-guided Black Shark boat at 38th GITEX Technology Week

  • These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error

JEDDAH: King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) has unveiled its Black Shark self-guided boat at the 38th GITEX Technology Week in Dubai. The vessel, which can carry out coastal surveillance and many other tasks, was developed in collaboration with Taqnia for Robotics and Smart Systems.
The development of the craft is part of a KACST initiative to localize and transform transport technology and logistics, to help achieve the aims of Vision of 2030.
The boat includes sensor systems that allow it to monitor and create a 3D map of a 200-meter area surrounding the boat, and automated control technology that gives it the ability to navigate independently and avoid collisions without human input. It can also be equipped with a flexible range of weapons, acting as a firearms platform that uses gyroscopic self-balancing technology. It has the ability to survey beaches at a range of 15 kilometers, in addition to accurately identifying its precise location with a margin of error of less than 20 centimeters using differential GPS, as well as specifying, monitoring and tracking targets.
The Black Shark also has long-range radar that covers up to 150 kilometers, and a telecommunication system to track its location, monitor its status and connect to multiple domains through command centers that allow wireless communication and remote control. It is fitted with a digital camera powered by electro-optic and infrared technology that can produce HD-quality video, and also has night vision capability.
As part of its initiative to develop transport technology and logistics, KACST has also worked on automated control technology, included self-driving heavy-duty trucks, with the University of California, Berkeley. These trucks are equipped with electronic pairing technologies, which effectively improve the shipping and distributing of goods, reduce human error, preserve resources, and reduce harmful emissions and fuel consumption.
The same technology can also, for example, transform a four-wheel-drive vehicle into a remote-controlled vehicle equipped with video cameras, infrared technology, a microphone and a control device wirelessly connected to a command center, where an operator can guide it using images from the video cameras.