Sony launches re-homing program for Aibo robot dogs

Owners can now donate Aibo robot dogs they no longer need to Sony’s new foster program which will find them another home.

The Aibo Foster Parent program aims to make the four-legged robot companion more sustainable and cater to the increased demand, Sony said in an announcement.

The company said it started the program after receiving “many inquiries” from Aibo owners who no longer needed the robot.

New Aibo models sell for almost $2,900 per unit and are praised for the companionship and emotional support they provide.

Sony said it would give used models their “next opportunity to shine” in medical institutions and care homes where interactions with Aibos were found to have a positive impact on patients, their families, and staff.

Sony said it would repair donated Aibos before giving them away for an unspecified service fee it plans to charge new owners. Some robot dogs may be used solely for parts, depending on their condition.

The foster program will run for a limited period and only covers the new generation ERS-1000 models launched in 2018.

Sony marketed the latest iteration of Aibos as a pairing between “cutting-edge” robotics and “unique” AI technology that allows the robotic puppy to develop its own personality over time.

Aibos react to a given name and, depending on a subscription plan, can be “potty trained,” taught tricks, or fed virtual food.

The ERS-1000 model was launched as a revival of earlier Aibo series dating to the first prototype of an “entertainment” robot dog in 1998.

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