Sony Japan is launching a special Aibo Foster Parent Program, a new sustainable effort so that its ERS-1000 Aibo robot dog companions can find forever homes and reduce e-waste.
According to its site, the program is meant "for owners who have finished living with Aibo," which quite frankly is the saddest way to describe someone not using a product any longer. Donations apply to ERS-1000 owners who cancelled their Aibo Cloud Plan. Sony will accept donations of the unused robots, give them the proper maintenance, and find new homes.
The Sony ERS-1000 Aibo was launched in 2018 for a whopping $2,900. It's an AI-powered puppy kitted out with external cameras and touch sensors that respond to you petting it. Our buddies at Tom's Guide reviewed the robot dog and said it was "a smart, capable device that perfectly imitates a real dog." Unlike a real dog, it has a short battery life, can't go outside, and is very expensive.
Though I guess it's no more expensive than a real dog when you factor in vet bills, food, and toys.
Sony will be charging a fee to potential "foster parents" to "provide treatment for the adopted Aibo" and notes that depending on the condition, your Aibo could be used for "treatment (maintenance) of other Aibo." Think of it as a robotic organ donor. Or don't; that's probably less upsetting.
"Owners who donate to the "Aibo foster parent program" will be sent a letter of appreciation and a small thank-you gift at a later date," notes the official site, so you can still feel all warm and fuzzy about your old friend heading off to the farm upstate.
The Aibo will then be sent to those foster parents at medical and nursing care facilities. Sony says it found that its robot doggos "can have a positive impact on patients, their families, and staff." These Aibo will have a special collar exclusive to the foster program.
Recruitment for Aibo Foster Parents will begin in December from various medical institutions and nursing care facilities. You can do so now if you're a current ERS-1000 owner and want to donate your puppy. Though currently, the program is only available in Japan.