Wed. Oct 4th, 2023
    Sony Launches Aibo Foster Parent Program to Provide Emotional Support to Medical Facilities

    Sony is introducing a new sustainability program called the “Aibo foster parent program” to ensure that their ERS-1000 Aibo robot dogs continue to bring joy and provide emotional support even after their initial owners cancel their Aibo Cloud Plan. The ERS-1000 Aibo, a reboot of Sony’s popular line of “autonomous entertainment” robot dogs from the late 90s, will be repaired and rehomed to medical and nursing facilities through this program.

    The main aim of the program is to donate preloved Aibo units to organizations that can benefit from the presence of emotional support robots. The donated units will be tested and repaired by Sony before being provided to medical facilities, nursing homes, and other organizations in need. Sony also plans to charge an undisclosed fee to the “foster parents” who donate their Aibo units and use the funds to maintain and repair other Aibo units based on their condition.

    While the ERS-1000 Aibo was not originally marketed as an emotional support device, it has features that make it suitable for providing comfort and companionship. The robot dog responds to voice commands and touch, and even has sensors for petting. It also has a nose-camera that helps it recognize members of a household. Although it cannot replace the presence of a real dog, Aibo offers a delightful emulation for people who are unable to interact with live animals.

    This initiative aligns with Japan’s interest in emotional support robots, as seen with SoftBank’s Pepper and the Paro therapy seal. The Aibo foster parent program not only allows Sony to repurpose preloved Aibo units, but also contributes to reducing potential electronic waste.

    – Sony
    – Japanese press announcement (machine translated)

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