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Robodog: Man's newest best friend

Wed, 03/19/2014 - 7:01am
Daniele DeAngelis Walker, Editorial Intern

What kid doesn’t want a puppy? Come to think of it, what adult doesn’t want a puppy? Yet there’s always a list of reasons why that isn’t a good idea. A new robotic dog may be the answer.

 

All dogged up
Zoomer, the latest in robotic dog technology, does everything a “real” dog would do— barking, running, tail-wagging —without any of the fur or mess that usually deters people from dogs. He’s about the size of your typical puppy, about ten inches long and six inches high. And come on, he’s obviously pretty adorable. He responds to commands and tricks in a snap. Most customers report that it took them under an hour to train him. The coolest part, I think, is that Zoomer can actually learn from his owners and improve at following their orders. His training process is active. He’s also significantly less likely to eat your shoes than a real dog. (No less likely to pee on everything you love, though. See the above video at 3:48). 

Pet peeves
Along with the pesky quirk of lifting his leg over your cell phone, consumers report that Zoomer does have a few other downsides. His battery life isn’t stellar, for one thing. He’s only slotted for about half an hour of play time before he needs, um, a nap. This can be helped, though not fixed, simply by turning him off when you aren’t playing with him. (In exchange for his poor battery life, parents with young kids do appreciate the fact that he has an internal battery.) Although many think training Zoomer is a breeze, others complain that it takes him way too long to learn commands, complaining that nothing sticks with him. Many think he’s too loud. To top it off, he’s spectacularly uncoordinated due to an inability to “see” edges…though people say that just makes him more like a puppy.

“Your real best friend”?
Though Zoomer isn’t the best or most high-tech robotic dog out there, he’s probably the most reasonably priced. Though he’s listed for $99, you can find one cheaper. And he’s got a culture and a following, just like living dogs: Besides his website, training apps are available for iOs and Android. For those who can’t have pets, whether because of allergy or inconvenience, I think Zoomer is an excellent alternative. Do you agree? Leave your opinions below.

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