For those with a purse of at least 2500 US dollar, Sony presented in 1998 the Aibo, a small cuddly dog. The dog could walk, sit up vertically, dance and sleep. You could talk to the dog, give command and stroke the pet. The Aibo could be nosy, busy or calm. They were also able to play with a pink ball, could balance a bone on their nose and when Aibos were brought together they would play together. The Aibo also became a favourite with kids and female pensionados. (It is even rumoured by my Nordic friends that they love to have Aibos for their sleigh rides in the snow.)
I remember an experiment from 2006 in the Netherlands where Furbies and Aibos were tested on pensionados (see photograph). The Aibo won. Over the years and mainly in Japan, small groups of Aibo owners got together to let the pets play together, but also to discuss issues of the silver wave of Aibo’s to come. Just like pensionados need knee and hip surgeries, robo-pets need limb repairs. But now that Sony has announced the shut-down of its Aibo maintenance department due to budget cuts, the pets will have to look for a caring team or an old-folks home.