Back in 1999, Sony released a robotic dog called Aibo, a canine companion that didn’t crap everywhere and only ate electricity. It sold pretty well — 150,000 units, despite the $US2,000 price tag. Some owners became remarkably attached, which makes it even more sad that Sony has stopped repairing Aibo. Slowly but surely, they’re all dying.
The New York Times has recorded the plight of current-day Aibo owners in a completely heartbreaking video. They interviewed a series of owners, whose Aibos are a central part of their lives, but are slowly having to come to the fact that their dogs have a life expectancy.
Thanks to a shortage of parts, Sony stopped repairing Aibos in March of last year. Repair work is now left to home-grown technicians, who have to cannibalise some Aibos to fix others. On one level, it’s amazing that the dogs have lasted 16 years, way beyond what I’d ever expect of a gadget these days. But it’s also a sobering reminder that nothing — not even obedient, adorable robot dogs — last forever.