Sony has revealed that it's essentially working on its very own version of WALL-E.
No, we don't mean a self-aware robot that will continue cleaning up the Earth after the impending ecological apocalypse. Although that would be cool.
Rather, the Japanese manufacturer is developing "a robot capable of forming an emotional bond with customers," which will be able to "grow to inspire love and affection." Presumably among cockroaches as well as people.
Sony revealed this intriguing snippet of information as part of its recent corporate strategy meeting for the 2016 financial year.
Apparently, the company established a new organisation to deal with this field of robotics in April, and is "working towards a business launch." The first product of its efforts could be some way off, then.
It's been ten years since Sony cruelly put its beloved AIBO robotic dog to sleep. Could this mean a spiritual - or even a direct - successor?
Sony has promised to "explore broader business opportunities for its robotics and AI technologies," so this is clearly a field it's interested in going forward rather than mere experimentation. After all, it can't live off camera sensors and games consoles indefinitely.
Another potential area for growth at Sony, of course, is VR. The company confirmed that "it has identified virtual reality as an area it believes offers great future potential for the Sony Group in games, as well as other areas," and that it was "engaging with virtual reality across the Sony Group, and also considering the possibility of cultivating it as a new business domain."
The PlayStation VR will launch in October, but it sounds like gaming is just the start for Sony's VR ambitions.
Would you be interested in forming an emotional bond with an AI-driven robot? Let us know in the comments.