Sony’s new Aibo robot struggles to compete with real dog

March 28, 2018

By Lea Torppey

Staff writer

After over a decade of waiting, Sony has finally resurrected its famous and iconic robotic dog, Aibo. First released in 1999, the Aibo is now available for preorder but will not be delivered to customers until 2018.

Like the previous versions, the new Aibo will respond to voice commands like “sit,” “high-five,” “lay down” and “kick the ball.” It will also be able to connect to mobile networks, take photos and record videos of the dog’s experiences. Aibo can even learn what makes its owner happy and repeat these actions, causing the robotic pet to develop its own distinct personality.

English teacher Ms. Biber has two cats and intends to adopt a dog in the near future. While she is interested in welcoming a new pet to her home, Biber said Aibo is not for her.

“It’s interesting because of how advanced the technology has become… but [Aibo] is still not real,” Biber said. “The people I imagine buying this dog are the successful people in New York City who work very long hours…. They could never have the responsibility of taking care of a real animal, but having this dog could fill in a little niche for them.”

Biber said she prefers real dogs because she likes to watch them grow and learn about their behaviors rather than having them pre-installed.

“The accidents and little mistakes that [real dogs] make are a part of life,” Biber said. “I enjoy… that because it’s not predictable.”

Sophomore Jenna Freitas, who loves animals, also favors the option of adopting a rescue dog.

“There are so many dogs in shelters that need to be adopted,” Freitas said. “If people keep buying robotic dogs, there will be no real dogs cared for on Earth. Living animals show genuine affection and love towards their owners, while robot dogs are only programmed to do so.”

Aibo’s impressive features come at a high price. The product costs over $1,700 and requires a monthly subscription.

Senior Michael Stevens, who teaches computer science to his peers, is among those who views Aibo as overpriced.

“Having a real dog is more fun because you can pet it and feed it,” Stevens said. “Plus the [robotic] dog is so much more money. You can have a real one for so much less…. There’s honestly no purpose in this world for a robotic dog. You can’t spend quality time with it because it’s just a piece of plastic. It has no emotions or feelings.”

Freshman Ronald Treier, however, said he likes the idea of owning Aibo and would buy one if it were affordable.

“It’s good for people with an allergy to dogs, so they can have the experience of having a real dog without actually having one,” Treier said. “I also think it will help the elderly be less lonely because some elderly people can’t walk or feed real dogs.”

Treier said he would like an Aibo because it would be a low-maintenance pet.

“The dog is good because it is easy to take care of,” Treier said. “You can power it off when you need a break.”

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