Cyberdog is here

If you love dogs but can’t own one because of allergies, building regulations, or canine-hating relatives, your prayers have been answered. Sony has just introduced the “cyber dog”, a robot that can be taken for walks, chases balls, and wags its tail.

“Aibo” (you can change its name) is also capable of being trained via a “memory stick”, a data storage device that holds pre-recorded movements and new data that you (the “master”) input. A separate product will allow keen robot dog trainers to design and store original movements for their new pet.

The dog of the millennium won’t cost you any money for food, but it will set you back at the outset. A pure-bred Aibo goes for about $3000, with new tricks (software modules) extra. If you really have to have one, move quickly, because the first litter of Aibos is limited to 5,000 worldwide.

Sad to say, Aibo still isn’t even as smart as your average hound. It chases balls, but can’t pick them up. And, like many real dogs, it doesn’t answer to its name. Sony hopes that new products like robotic dogs will open new markets for the next century. It’s my guess that the popularity of real dogs will soar even further.