What happens when a robot dog dies in Japan?

Over 100 dogs just shared a funeral in Japan. The catch? They were all robots.

Source: peconicpublicbroadcasting.org

A group of Sony’s out-of-production, old generation Aibo robot dogs were honoured with a traditional funeral service in Chiba Prefecture, reports The Japan Times.

The 114 dogs were formally lined up April 26 within Isumi’s historic Kofukuji Buddhist temple. Each was given a tag describing their family owners and place of origin, according to the publisher.

The dogs are all different Aibo releases, including Sony’s first generation dogs launched in May 1999. It’s described as “the first robot designed for home entertainment purposes equipped with adaptive learning and growth capabilities that allow each unit to develop a unique personality.”

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More than 150,000 dogs of different iterations were sold over the years, before Sony discontinued Aibo in 2006.

The funerals are reportedly instated by vintage electronics repair company A-Fun Co. They encourage people to send their broken old generation robot dogs in for a service, before they’re dismantled for parts like range finder and touch sensors. Sony even refers people to this company to get their older robo-dogs updated.

“We’d like to return the souls to the owners and make the robot a machine to utilize their parts,” Nobuyuki Norimatsu, head of A-Fun, told the Times. “We don’t take parts before we hold funeral for them.”

With Sony canning Aibo in 2006 and closing it’s last Aibo repair clinic in 2014, owners were at a loss to how to maintain their four-legged robo-friends. Many held personal funerals in 2015.

Owners of older Sony Aibo robot dogs asked the tech giant in March 2018 to review their repair policy, which says that discontinued products won’t be maintained seven years after they’re canned.

Sony’s Aibo robot dogs aren’t completely dead. The company surprised everyone in 2017 when it announced the return of Aibo, unveiling an AI-fueled demo in January 2018- with a whopping $2,000 price tag.

Importantly, you can’t sub in the parts from the new Aibo dogs with the older models- so resurrections are becoming harder and harder.

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