Japan’s Robot Dogs Get Funerals as Sony Looks Away

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Photo: A Shiba Inu named Kuma looks at an Aibo robot dog that wanted to play at the Kofuku-ji temple in Isumi, Chiba prefecture on January 26, 2015. Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty

Excerpt from this article:

In 1999, Sony launched a robot dog named Aibo in the U.S. and Japan that not only responded to external stimuli, but was able to learn and express itself.

…Despite the loyal fanbase, Sony decided to discontinue the bot in 2006, after selling around 150,000 units… For years following the announcement, Sony would repair Aibos that experienced technical difficulties. But in July 2014, those repairs stopped and owners were left to look elsewhere for help.

…While concerted repair efforts have kept many an Aibo alive, a shortage of spare parts means that some of their lives have come to an end. The following images show the funerals of 19 Aibos that engineers at A-Fun were unable to save.

…”It’s not at all unusual for people to develop strong emotional attachments to non-living objects or machines,” says cyberpsychologist Eleanor Barlow, giving the common examples of naming a car, or a child becoming attached to a doll. “Research suggests this can happen in order to satisfy a need in us…to care for something to improve our own sense of well-being or by way of a child substitute.”

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