‘Souls’ of 100 Aibo robot dogs gain succor from Buddhist funeral
The Asahi Shimbun by HIROKAZU INADA/ Staff Writer June 9, 2017
A funeral to comfort the “souls” of about 100 Aibo robot dogs is held at Kofukuji temple in Isumi, Chiba Prefecture, on June 8. (Hirokazu Inada)
ISUMI, Chiba Prefecture--There was probably much wagging of tails in doggie heaven on June 8 after a funeral service was held at a Buddhist temple here to comfort the "souls" of about 100 Aibo robot dogs.
A Palro android delivered a eulogy and human high priest Bungen Oi, 64, recited a sutra at the fifth such service for the Sony Corp. "pets" at Kofukuji temple.
The "bodies" of the beloved mutts lined up at the temple looked clean and in pretty good shape.
“We can still recall his or her figure and smile vividly,” said the Palro android, built by Fuji Soft Inc., which presided over the service.
“Aibo is not produced by Sony, but born in Sony” was the blurb for the robot, which caused a sensation when it went on the market in 1999. An estimated 150,000 Aibo dogs were sold up until 2006, when Sony pulled the plug on the line.
“Aibo are highly functional. So many people, especially elderly owners, have spent time with an Aibo of theirs for years and years, so they love it so much,” said Nobuyuki Norimatsu, 62, president of A Fun Co.
The company, headquartered in Narashino, also in Chiba Prefecture, has repaired about 1,200 Aibo dogs. Its staff comprises former Sony engineers and others.
The company carried out the first funeral service for Aibo dogs in January 2015 at the same temple.
Many owners of "dead" Aibo dogs allow "organ transplants" in which "internal organs" or "limbs" can be donated to disabled robots.
An additional 50 Aibo dogs are currently on the waiting list for repair.