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Sony's new Aibo robot dog is cuter, does better tricks at CES

We checked out Sony's second Aibo robot dog at CES 2018 and it's definitely more fun than the original.

Sarah Tew/CNET
Sony Aibo Robot Dog
Sarah Tew/CNET

Sony's Aibo robot dog is back -- and it's cuter than ever. The new Aibo has more personality too. Sony says it relies on sophisticated sensors and AI smarts, the sort used in self-driving cars. The Aibo senses its environs, and not just to avoid objects. The little doggie tries its darnedest to mimic the movement and activities of a real pooch.

During our playtime with the Aibo here at CES, it barked at us in an endearing way. It also kept moving around with boundless energy, almost as a puppy would. Even better, the Aibo responds to touch on three specific areas: on its head, back and under its chin. Two cameras -- in its nose and near its tail -- help the Aibo identify family members and "map" your home environment as well. Those cameras can guide it to its charging station when its two-hour charge nears an end. (It'll take about three hours to juice up.)

This new Aibo model looks more lifelike, too. The first robot (which Sony killed off in 2006) had a boxy, robotic appearance -- it even had a visor instead of eyes. The new model is a lot more rounded and "organic" looking, with 4,000 parts, 22 actuators and OLED-screen eyes to more realistically duplicate canine activity

Right now the Aibo is sold in Japan only, and it's not cheap: It'll cost you 198,000 Yen (roughly $1,760, £1,300 or AU$2,250). But for some, that'll be a fair price to pay to be the first person on the block with a robot dog.

First published Jan. 9, 1:38 p.m. PT, 2017.

Update, 4:20 p.m.: Adds further details.

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