Sony launched a ‘parental care’ program for its aging Aibo robot dogs

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Sony is launching a new sustainability program to ensure that even the robot dogs are not just for Christmas, but for life. ERS-1000 Aibo – Five years after rebooting the popular line of “autonomous entertainment” robot dogs in the late ’90s – Sony Japan is now launching an “Aibo Foster Parent Program” to help ERS-1000 owners who have canceled theirs. Aibo Cloud scheme to donate gadgets to a worthy cause.

According to a machine translation of a Japanese press announcement, Sony will test and repair the ERS-1000 units donated to the program before providing them to medical facilities, nursing homes and other organizations that could benefit from emotional support robots such as Aibo. Sony says it plans to charge Aibo “foster parents” an undisclosed fee for the service, and notes that some donations could be used to help maintain and repair other Aibo units, depending on their condition.

Aibo isn’t just marketed as an emotional support tool, but it’s easy to see why it could be used as such. The ERS-1000 responds to sound and touch (with various sensors for petting) and even has a nose-camera to help identify family members.

For people who can’t interact with a real dog, Aibo is at least an enjoyable simulation. Japan is also keen on emotional support robots in general (remember SoftBank’s paper and vapor therapy seals?) so this is a great way to retire pre-loved Aibo units while reducing potential e-waste.

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