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.