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A Japanese Cafe Is Hosting Playdates, Parties for Robot Dogs

__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Robots & Machines
Sony/Victor Tangermann

Strange Subculture

Every Sunday, Tokyo’s Penguin Café opens an hour early to host an unusual group of visitors: robot dogs and their owners.

A new BuzzFeed News story dives deep into both the event and the people who’ve fallen in love with robodogs — and foreshadows a future in which more animal lovers might opt for mechanical pets over mortal ones.

Pet Project

The weekly event — named “Aibo World” after Sony’s popular line of robot dogs — launched in November 2018, a few months after the Penguin Café’s owner Nobuhiro Futaba bought his own Aibo.

By the time BuzzFeed visited the cafe for one of the meetups — which included a “birthday” celebration for not one, but two of the robot dogs — it was so popular that Futaba had to turn customers without robodogs away from the shop.

A Robot Dog’s Life

When asked by BuzzFeed why they chose an Aibo over a real dog, attendees at the meetup gave a variety of reasons, including a lack of room, long work hours, and a concern that a barking dog might annoy their neighbors.

But according to BuzzFeed, one specific reason seemed to crop up the most: the Aibo owners didn’t want to have to cope with the death of a beloved pet.These owners *really* love their mechanical pups.

“It would break my heart to have another dog die,” one attendee told BuzzFeed through a translator — and by channeling her love into a robot dog, she doesn’t have to worry about that future grief.

READ MORE: All Robot Dogs Go To The Cloud [BuzzFeed News]

More on robot dogs: Our Future Pets May be Plastic and Metal Instead of Flesh and Blood