The world has reached a surprising level where we not only have dogs available for adoption but also robot dogs seeking a second home where they’ll be loved until their last cybernetic bark.
Sony has launched the “Aibo Foster Parent” program for its $2,900 robot dogs, allowing them to be donated to owners whose basic plans have been canceled.
Subsequently, the company will refurbish the Aibo as needed and donate them to medical centers, foster homes, and other organizations. The goal is to “make Aibo more sustainable,” says the company, by giving the units a second home where they can provide emotional support and more.
Every dog deserves a home, even robot dogs
The robot dogs in question, the ERS-1000 units from 2019, are still being sold and represent a reboot of Sony’s late 1990s “entertainment” robot dogs.
It’s not an entirely charitable project, as Sony will charge “foster parents” an unspecified fee for the service. They also note that, depending on their condition, some donated units may strictly serve as parts to repair other Aibo robots.
In case you don’t recall Aibo, these robots can perform a series of tricks like standing on their hind legs and greeting their owner at the door when they arrive home, and they are designed to “mature” over time like a real dog. They also offer a web interface that allows for custom programming of actions.
The units are equipped with a set of sensors and respond to voice and touch, and they can even recognize specific individuals, making them ideal as emotional support devices.
This means they can be used in facilities that don’t allow real animals, so the program appears to be a good way to make use of old units while reducing electronic waste.