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The new pet rock?

16 May 2024

Pets are great.

Studies indicate that pets reduce stress levels, improve longevity and quality of life.

Unfortunately there are some downsides to pet ownership. They require constant feeding, they sometimes ruin your furniture and when they get sick, the vet bills can be astronomical.

If only there was a way to enjoy all the benefits of pet ownership but without the hassles and ongoing costs.

Even better, imagine having a pet that you can train with a keyboard or tablet rather than by using tasty treats to bribe them.

Wait no longer, the answer is just a huge credit-card bill away, apparently.

Robotics have come an awfully long way since early science fiction gave us a glimpse of what the future might look like and now you can buy your very own robotic pet.

For a price!

How much would you pay for a small quadrupedal robot that mimicks a pet dog in form, albeit not in function?

Let's be clear, this robodog isn't going to bring your slippers, it's not going to chase a ball or fetch a stick. This is a somewhat menacing device that weighs in at a rather hefty 12Kg and although it will trot alongside you when you go for a walk you'll leave it far behind if you decide to take a bit of a sprint because it's nowhere near as fast as a real dog.

Have I piqued your interest, I hope not -- but if I have then here's the link:

The Unitree Go1

Be prepared to lay down a huge US$2,700 for the "air" model or a gobsmacking US$3,500 for the "pro" version.

Plus another US$1,000 for shipping -- WTF?

So, if you have a spare NZ $7,350 to waste and you need some plastic and metal for a friend, send your money off and let us know how it goes.

Oh, and don't forget there's also going to be about another $1,100 in GST to pay so the total price is more like NZ$8,500.

I think that would cover a lot of vet fees, food and other "costs" associated with owning a *real* dog but obviously, some folk prefer robodogs to the real thing, right?

Don't get to excited about this puppy's capabilities either. Although they wax lyrical about its AI and other smarts, there's a long list of caveats including warnings that it can't see well in dim light, you can't walk in congested areas and that the dog may stop following you if there any obstructions that block the signal it relies on for determining your location.

Hell, a real dog will follow your scent for miles and track you down even if you're hiding up a tree!

So who would buy such a device, especially given that this appears to be a Chinese company which also professes to sell a humanoid robot that doesn't even have hands but carries a price sticker of US$150,000?

Are people *really* that lonely and rich?

Ah well, I'll make do with my three mentally deranged cats. One is afraid of *everything* and can usually be found cowering in fear under the bed, another sits at the back door wanting to be let in and then, once the door is opened, jumps through the cat-flap (WTF?).

Yeah, at this stage, biscats are cheaper than batteries so I'll stick with what I've got thank you.

Carpe Diem folks!

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