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article imageSony eyes return to robot-making business

By Lucky Malicay     Jun 30, 2016 in Business
Tokyo - The adorable Japanese Aibo dogs could soon make a comeback a decade after they were being put to "sleep" as electronics giant Sony Corp. is planning to return to robot-making business.
A Sony executive announced the company eyes to introduce a robot that is “capable of forming an emotional bond," saying a special unit has been set up in April for the business.
“Our robots will provide an emotional connection as well as the joy of nurturing, and people will love them,” said Sony president Kazuo Hirai.
Sony came up with the world’s first home robot in 1999. But a restructuring drive had taken toll on the production of the Aibo robotic dogs, forcing Sony to halt the business in 2006 despite their overwhelming popularity that enabled the company to sell more than 150,000 units in seven years.
"Our core businesses are electronics, games and entertainment, but the focus is going to be on profitability and strategic growth," Sony spokeswoman Kirstie Pfeifer said in 2006. "In light of that, we've decided to cancel the Aibo line."
The launch date and the specifics of the new Aibo robots are not yet known.
Hirai said the new robot business will combine hardware and services, citing artificial intelligence and robots as areas to be prioritized as they move forward.
The company’s announcement comes amid the ongoing exhibition of science fiction-like technologies developed by the Japanese artificial intelligence industry.
At least 15 firms displayed their cutting-edge AI technology in a three-day exhibition at the Tokyo Big Sight in Koto Ward.
One participating company, Monogocoro Co., plans to develop a “friendly robot” that sympathizes with people and understands human emotions.
“What we are trying to develop is Doraemon rather than RoboCop or the Terminator,” said Tomoyasu Takano of Monogocoro, referring to a hugely popular local comic series featuring a robotic cat and a schoolboy.
“We are aiming to develop a friendly robot with a warm heart.”
The event, although not open to the public, is part of the annual Content Tokyo, a series of exhibitions in the area of entertainment.
The AI exhibition will end on Friday.
More about Sony, Aibo dogs, robotmaking business, Robots, Japan
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