Robotic pets are some of the most lovable pieces of tech out there; we’ve seen it with Paro the robotic seal, AIBO the robotic dog, heck, even the laser-equipped K-9 from Doctor Who has a place in our hearts. It is, unsurprisingly, dogs that tend to prove most popular when it comes to creating a robotic pet. For any child that wanted an adorable puppy to roll around and play fetch with but couldn’t have one for any number of reasons, a robotic dog offered an alternative.
Early versions of these pets were, of course, nothing compared to the real thing (I remember having one from Argos that was, quite frankly, alarming) but as time went on we began to see them improve resulting in genuinely smart pets you could connect with both emotionally and wirelessly like Sony’s AIBO. It’s hard to believe that the last model of AIBO was made in 2005. Since then there hasn’t really been an advanced dogbot to capture our hearts. WowWee think they’re up to the task with their latest creation with CHiP (Canine Home Intelligent Pet), which they describe as the world’s first lovable robot dog.
The main difference between CHiP and the older AIBO robots is that CHiP drives around on wheels and has has better voice recognition. Personally we preferred AIBO’s little legs but the wheels do make CHiP faster and more fun for games. It can play soccer but if you’re feeling particularly chilled it will even do yoga with you. You can give CHiP a custom name and it repsonds to many commands including the usual such as “come”, “sit”, “stay”, and “lay down”. A bunch of sensors allow CHiP to avoid obstacles and it even recognises the face of its owner, letting it treat strangers less affectionately.
The included “smartband” can be used to summon and control CHiP but there’s also a smartphone app for more advanced features. An interesting idea is a translator, so you can find out what CHiP actually wants when it barks at you. The best feature, and one we wish every robot had, is that it automatically returns to its own bed to recharge itself. This along with the improved voice recognition might make it better than the AIBOs but we still prefer robodog legs over wheels.
You can preorder CHiP for £199.99 on Amazon. It arrives on August 30th.
Main image: WowWee