‘AIBOs’ robotic dogs were the world’s first home-use entertainment robots, sold in Japan by Sony Corp. between 1999 and 2006. Equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI), these dogs were capable of developing their own personality, making them all the more endearing to their owners. So much so, in fact, that when they break down, the owners bury them with a proper funeral service, just like they would a real pet!
To understand the strange practice of burying a robot, you’ve got to understand exactly how popular Aibos are in Japan. When Sony rolled out the first generation Aibo in 1999, the initial batch of 3000 units were sold out in 20 minutes flat, in spite of the $2,000 price tag. In the following years, over 150,000 units of various Aibos models were sold.
But Sony was in trouble in 2006, so Aibo, the expensive luxury pet, was discontinued. The company did keep their ‘Aibo Clinic’ open until March last year. But then they decided to further cut costs by shutting down the maintenance unit, and owners had to look elsewhere for help with spare parts. Unfortunately, they are hard to come by, which means that when Aibos dogs break down, most of them leave their owners forever. So the only option for the owners to deal with the loss is by organizing a real funeral.