Sony's robotic dogs are dying off, and it's really, really sad

The end nears for Sony's robotic dogs

Last year, Sony announced that it would phase out repairs for its robotic 'Aibo' dogs that were introduced in 1999. Now, owners are facing up to the fact that their robo-canine companions won't live forever.

The New York Times has published a video where several Aibo owners are interviewed and asked about how they feel about the decision. You might want to have some tissues handy, it's a bit of a tear-jerker.

Sony sold 150,000 Aibos of different generations at a price of 250,000 yen (about £1,200) between 1999 and 2006. They could walk around, talk to their owners and do tricks, and the fifth and final edition was apparently able to express 60 different emotional states.

Nothing lasts forever

The problem is a shortage of parts - now that Sony doesn't make them any more, repair work must be done by third party technicians. They're forced to cannibalise bits from already-broken ones to fix others - reducing the number of Aibos out in the wild and pushing up those repair costs exponentially.

Having said that, Aibo has done pretty well. The average lifespan of a dog is 13 years, and the oldest Aibos are now pushing 17 - that's 84 in dog years. Turns out that even metal, plastic and silicon doesn't last forever.

Photo credit: Stuart Caie // CC BY 2.0

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.