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Sony Aibo to spread more puppy love

Sony is planning to train Aibo, its robot dog, to recognize its owner's name, voice and face, and get all excited.

Sony is planning to train Aibo, its robot dog, to be able to pick you out of a crowd.

Sony's Entertainment Robot America division said Tuesday it will introduce Aibo Recognition, a new application for its newest Aibo ERS-210A and ERS-210 models. The software will grant the mechanical dog the ability to recognize its owner's name, voice and face, as well as automatically recharge itself.

The new features are part of an effort to make Aibo's actions more realistic.

"By infusing Aibo with increased artificial intelligence, such as voice and face recognition, we are expanding the autonomous functionality of the Entertainment Robot product line," Victor Matsuda, president of Entertainment Robot America, said in a statement. "With Aibo Recognition software, Aibo will now be even more petlike, giving owners the ability to interact with a robot like never before."

After going through a recognition process, where Aibo registers its owner's name, voice and facial features, the robot dog will be able to find the owner in a crowd.

When it hears the owner or seeing his or her face, Aibo will show affection. The robot can show a number of emotions, ranging from happiness and excitement to surprise and anger.

The software will also allow Aibo to eat when it is hungry. When Aibo runs low on power, the robot will be able to search for its Energy Station, a $170 accessory, and make its way to its recharging cradle.

Once charged, Aibo will then turn itself on and walk away from the charger. Aibo Recognition will be available in late November for $99 and will come on a 16MB Sony Memory Stick.

In addition, the Aibo ERS-10A models will also get some new spots in November. Entertainment Robot America will offer Aibo in two new colors--red and white--starting in the middle of November. The new models will be priced the same as the current Aibo, at a suggested retail price of $1,299, the company said.