Man's best friend has $2,500 tag

June 28, 1999|By Michael Quintanilla | Michael Quintanilla,Los Angeles Times

He walks and barks, wags his tail and even kicks a ball. But this doggy is unlike any pooch you've ever seen.

This pup doesn't make messes because it never chows down or laps up water. He doesn't require veterinarian visits, petting or treats.

That's because he's powered by a battery and made of steel, with computer parts for innards: a 64-bit processor, internal memory chip, a camera in his head and touch, hearing, sight and balance sensors that allow its 18 joints to move its 3 1/2 pounds.

This Fido of the future has a name: Aibo.

Five years in the making by Sony Electronics' Tokyo-based robot division, Digital Creatures Laboratories, Aibo is an Internet best seller, says Yosh Kambe, director of Sony's Entertainment Robot America in Culver City, Calif.

This month in Japan, 3,000 of them sold out in 20 minutes after the computerized canine went on sale -- only over the Internet -- for slightly more than $2,000.

Aibo has hit cyberspace shopping in the United States at $2,500.

You can meet the metal critter at www.world.sony.com/robot.

"It's not just a toy and it's not a replacement for your real pet," Kambe says. "It's a robot. It's entertainment. It's about life in the next century."

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