Robot Dogs!


Photo: urban don. Landlord says no pets? End-run the rulebook with a robot. Isn't this fellow, hacked out of a child's toy by the awe-inspiring Don Pezzano, just adorable? But perhaps mutant Furbies are not to your taste. There are, of course, alternatives.

1008917969_863ea90b33_b.jpg Think "robot dog," think Aibo, Sony's much-loved computerized canine. Discontinued in 2006, the various models could see, walk, recognize commands and even learn from their environment and other Aibos. Sony fought a copyright war with Aibo owners to prevent them hacking the machines using third-party software, but eventually relented and released their internal programmer's kit to the public. Your best bet nowadays is Ebay. Photo: Alden Chadwick. 408727662_2ce89a05cd_o.jpg Extra Ketchup's reincarnation of Doctor Who companion K-9 has advantages over the TV prop original: "my K-9 is a real, programmable, electronic robot ... made of metal, powered by a 12 volt lawn tractor battery, (with) an Intel Celeron processor for a brain." dogred.jpg Lark Toys, a toy museum in Kellogg, MN, has this Meccanno-style pup in its gift shop. Photo: Eda Cherry robopet.jpg WowWee Robotics' Robopet is based on designs by Mark Tilden, according to Wikipedia. It has 5 gearboxes, a 16 bit RISC processor, and the source code is 12k of assembly language created by mark in the 1980s. Photo: Sean Dreillinger. 4176124740_ec2fb16a0a_o.jpg Look familiar? This one is at Miraikan, Japan's museum of the future. Photo: Motoyen. 175933659_89f6437133_o.jpg This pup lives at the Sonoma County Human Society. Photo: Dogzen. 372829860_92bbfebfa1_b.jpg Most dogs come when called. This one plays go. (And he also goes to dinner) Photo: Torisan3500. firepile.jpg Photo: Robin Zebrowski's colorful robo-pup has a similarly cheerful master.
Genibo, one of the various successors left after Sony put Aibo out to pasture, searches for its master in this video posted by Aaron Nanto. 3556850033_e2fd261a1f_b.jpg Gnesix took this shot for a college assignment; the lighting is provided by portable LEDs. smallmediummeat.jpg The title Phillip Torrone gave to this shot says it all: small, medium, meat.
Boston Dynamics' Big Dog (what robot dog show could do without her?) isn't available for purchase just yet. Here she is on the beach. Look out for her on a busy battlefield near you.


  1. You would think salt water would destroy the Boston Dynamics bot but it was impressive that it was unable to function in the deep water. I wonder if it would survive stronger currents.

    1. Sooo, it doesn’t go at the bottom of the post anymore? I wasn’t looking at the top for that.

      Anyway, good stuff. I’m always surprised by how hard people work to avoid uncertainty in how the limbs move, but that makes the robots move unrealistically every time. You’ve got to have some mechanical give in there if it’s going to look right.

    1. I’ve never watched that without feeling sorry for it when the guy pushes it and it struggles to stay up. I try hard to remember its a machine but it’s hard wired into me to empathize with dog-like shapes. Its like an optical illusion for the emotions.

  2. Let’s not forget that the anime Yatterman had three dog themed robots: Yatter-Wan, Yatter-King and Yatter-Bull.

  3. I could use a few of these for my toy robot shrine. (Yes, I really have a toy robot shrine.)

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