(File pix) A young boy plays with a pre-ordered Sony robot dog "Aibo" after its birthday ceremony in Tokyo on January 11, 2018. Sony marked the year of the dog by bringing back its popular Aibo robot companion canine, with the new model packed with artificial intelligence and internet capability. AFP Photo

TOKYO: Japan’s Sony Corp on Thursday revived its “aibo” robot pet dog after a 12-year break, this time featuring artificial intelligence and communications functions, Japan’s Jiji Press reported.

The new version followed the first-generation aibo, which hit the market in 1999 with its production terminated in 2006.

The second-generation aibo acts more like a real dog. It develops a unique character as it interacts with its owner.

To mark the release of the new product, Sony invited some 40 people who had preordered aibos to a “birth ceremony” at its head office in Tokyo.

“I’ve been waiting for this day,” a purchaser said after receiving the robot pet.

“I want to let this aibo play with the first-generation aibo,” another said.

Sony started accepting online preorders in November last year.

The new product did not hit retail store shelves on the launch date, because all aibos available for preorders had sold out.

Sony plans to sell the product via the Internet for the time being.

The robot is priced at some 300,000 yen (US$2,697), including communications fees over three years.

The first-generation aibo was a hit product whose total shipments reached 150,000 units.

The Japanese robot pet market is expected to grow as the aging of the country’s population progresses.

By 2020, five per cent of all households in Japan will have a robot that communicates with humans, according to projections by Tokyo-based robot business consulting firm Robot Start Inc. - Bernama

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