Kofuku-ji temple chief priest Bungen Oi (R) offers a prayer during the funeral for 19 Sony's pet robot AIBOs
Kofuku-ji temple chief priest Bungen Oi (R) offers a prayer during the funeral for 19 Sony's pet robot AIBOs

Japanese hold funerals for robot dogs, after Sony lets them die

Aibos have been discontinued and are slowly dying as spare parts disappear

Andrew Griffin
Tuesday 10 March 2015 17:24
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Robots dogs that are no longer supported by Sony, which made them, are being laid to rest in funerals in Japan.

The dog, known as Aibo, was released in 1999 with the promise of being able to learn and express itself, so that it would develop a personality. And while they were popular for some time, Sony discontinued the dogs in 2006, and stopped repairing them in July 2014.

Some businesses have been set up to repair the dogs, and are keeping them alive. But with a shortage of spare parts, some of the dogs are dying entirely and so are holding funerals to say goodbye to them.

AIBO (L) plays beside 'Kuma,' the Shiba Inu (R) after the funeral for 19 Sony's pet robot AIBOs at the Kofuku-ji temple in Isumi, Chiba prefecture on January 26, 2015

Mourners recently held a funeral for 19 of the dogs, at an altar at the Kofuku-ji temple in China prefecture. The Aibos were taken to A-Fun, a repair company, in the hope of saving them — but the company had to lead a funeral for those that could not be revived.

Kofuku-ji temple chief priest Bungen Oi (3rd R), A-Fun president Nobuyuki Norimatsu (3rd L), A-Fun supervisor Hiroshi Funabashi (2nd R) and other A-Fun employee hold Sony's pet robot AIBOs prior to holding the robots' funeral at the Kofuku-ji temple in Isumi

The funerals are important for the dogs’ owners, who can develop deep attachments to the dogs.

“I can’t imagine how quiet our living room would have been if Ai-chan wasn’t here,” Sumie Maekawa, an Aibo owner, told The Wall Street Journal.

The name Aibo stands for artificiallly intelligent robot. They cost up to £1300, roughly, until they were discontinued as Sony wanted to concentrate more on its core businesses.

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