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.


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.


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."


Lark Toys, a toy museum in Kellogg, MN, has this Meccanno-style pup in its gift shop. Photo: Eda Cherry


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.


Look familiar? This one is at Miraikan, Japan's museum of the future. Photo: Motoyen.


This pup lives at the Sonoma County Human Society. Photo: Dogzen.


Most dogs come when called. This one plays go. (And he also goes to dinner) Photo: Torisan3500.


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.


Gnesix took this shot for a college assignment; the lighting is provided by portable LEDs.


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.