Since we first started making robots to do stuff for us, we’ve had an undeniable cultural fear of robot takeover. Sure, robots might soon take some of our human jobs, but that means more robot-making jobs, right? I think it’s time to look at the sunny side of advanced robotics. Or at the very least, the adorable side. For many who can’t (or don’t want to) have real fur balls, the time is neigh to consider a realistic robotic pet.
Robotic pets have come a long way since the first Tamagotchi digipets were airdropped into the cult obsession zone. Modern robotic pets can do a lot of the things real pets can do but without all of the smells, liquids and hair-shedding of the real thing.
Take Spin Master’s Zoomer, for example. This little guy is almost the size of a real puppy, but he’s much easier to potty train. His wheels make him “zoom” around much more quickly than his robotic ancestors did, and his A.I. allows him to gradually master commands like speak, sit and shake paw. Given the right command, he’ll even pop a squat for you (without actually releasing anything unpleasant).
If you don’t mind sacrificing a little realism, the IR Remote Control Intelligent Robot Dog can be trained to be a robotic doggie companion, but can also keep kids company by singing and dancing for them. It even becomes a learning buddy by answering math questions.
I can see how snuggly kids would bemoan the lack of furry cuteness of most robot dogs. If adorableness is priority 1 on your robotic dog wishlist, try something like the WoWWEe Alive Husky Pup. This little guy coos and quips realistically, but doesn’t do many red-letter tricks.
If your kid wants something a little more metal than a traditional robotic dog, then you should probably start looking for alternative animals. Really, it doesn’t get more awesome than a T-Rex with a spiked collar that plays games and comes when he’s called. Also highly trainable, this guy is all about terrorizing your robotic cats.
If you came here just to see if I could avoid putting this guy on the list, well, sorry to disappoint you: there’s no escape. Remember how many Furbys there used to be on a single airplane flight in the late 90s? Remember how happy you were when the Furby craze finally died, and how worried you were when they made their glorious return to box store shelves last year?
It’s ok to have a love-hate relationship with this little guy. I mean, look: The updated version comes with cool, tongue in cheek design patterns like “Christmas Sweater” and even has an accompanying app now. And yep, not to worry: they still come out of the box speaking mostly Furbish, and with a little patience you can still teach it some English. It’s hard not to love the little guy, but I don’t blame you for not wanting to be stuck on a plane with him.
The header image is Pleo, the hyper-realistic dino that attunes itself to its owner’s personality.