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Competition for AIBO: Robo Cat 176

bruce76 writes, "A Japanese company called Toshihiro Tashima is slated to introduce a robotic cat similar (in concept) to the Sony Aibo. This robotic cat is called Tama," They put fur on it, but the most interesting part is that they claim it can recognize its own name. That's a improvement over Aibo who isn't deaf, but sound doesn't do too much for him.
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Competition for AIBO: Robo Cat

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  • Hmm.. odd that today's UF [] is about Five and Dustpuppy.

    Is Illiad psycho^Hic or something? (:
  • ...I'd really like to see someone hack up a catnip.c snippet ;-)
  • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @12:55PM (#1248512)
    A good deal of the appeal of an AIBO to someone like me is that you've got this thing that's obviously a robot, designed just out of any bad SF movie, but which actually works. Sure, the behaviour's nice but it's mostly just a funky little robot. I'd still go for them if they were half as powerful.

    This, OTOH, looks like a rather poor stuffed toy. Now, I don't doubt it does a fantastic job of pretending to be cat, but it just doesn't look as cool. So, unfortunately, I don't want one.

    Oh well. Maybe someone will produce a proper AIBO style cat? That I can afford? :)

  • I hate to say it, but I can hear CRT devices. Monirots, TVs - some more than others but I can definitely hear them. Dunno about anyone else but I can hear whether the TVs tuned in or not as well...

    The particularly worrying one was when I realised I could hear our old photocopier - not a cooling fan or motor running, but I could tell it was on as I walked past the door.

  • -
    Here in my lab I also deal with intelligence.
    And artificial intelligence.

    You are all invited to check out "Patsy":

    A female cat, recognizes her name, recognizes multiple specific human beings and reacts accordingly.

    Never falls, can even jump !

    Special regenerative power supply lasts over 10 years.

    Recognizes rooms, remembers places and even interprets a human's voice or behavior.
    The interpretation is stored in EPROM, so once she "understood" something, she will react faster the next time.
    To avoid stereotypic behavior, the stored information will be flushed if proven invalid for several times.
    That's what we humans call "learning".

    "Patsy" can't speak yet, so bodylanguage is used.

    There's only one string attached:
    She's copyrighted by God....

  • The reason I ask is because, in Dragonball Z, the little kitty that's perpetually perched on Dr. Briefs' shoulder is also named Tama.

    Just wondering.
  • Robokoneko is to this robotic cat as AIBO is to a pet rock. Another group in Japan (the ATR Group) has been developing Robokoneko for a long time and their progress is staggering... their AI model they use is stellar, and in the creation of it they invented the fastest AI processing machines to date in the area they are using. They are using cellular automata systems to simulate the neural net of the cat and the fastest machine to do this kind of thing to date was the MIT CAM-8. In order to get the kind of processing power to run the cat in realtime, learning and reacting to real-world stimulus, they needed a machine that could do the cellular automata stuff at LEAST 400 times faster than the MIT CAM-8. Well, their machine (as far as I know its only name is CAM Brain) runs 500 times faster!

    Robokoneko wasn't developed to be a virutal pet, though, it is a proof in theory of the AI principles behind it. And from what they've doen so far, it seems they've just about proven everything they set out to do. A company in America called Genobyte is providing a lot of the funding and may very well release Robokoneko as a toy in the future... a cat that can actually start off as a kitten and "grow" (not physically of course) into a full cat.

    There's so much cool stuff about Robokoneko I can't put it all in this post. They're using a distributed community model to figure out what to do with all the parts of the brain and how to interconnect them (there are thousands and thousands of modules, they think sight, hearing, the usual stuff will only take a few hundred modules, so they've got a lot of extra space).

    If you're interested in genetic algorithms, neural networks, cellular automata theories, artificial intelligence in general, or anything like that, do a quick Google for Robokoneko and I promise you won't be disappointed.

    Their machine is made of simple FPGAs too, so theoretically you could build one yourself if you knew how to do that kinda thing, they explain the way they have done it in great detail in their documents.
  • Actually, I can too. I can hear from my house's ground floor whether the TV in the basement is on or not, and my older computer's monitor sometimes breaks out into a lower frequency so that I can hear it. It drives me nuts, and I have to hit it a few times to make the sound go away.

    I can hear practically all TVs in this way, but not better computer monitors at high refresh rates. They're too high. Dogs can though - it's interesting to watch.
  • Indeed!

    I'd prefer a completely robotic robot, like the Lost in Space one.

    Our secret is gamma-irradiated cow manure
    Mitsubishi ad
  • You forgot
    squeeze_into_tiny_space() /* awww */, and
    hide(boolean tail_sticking_out) /* it's not a bug if you document it */
    If you get it to purr just right, it can serve as a marital aid.

    What we really need is a critter with a loadable personality module. Depending on your mood when you get home from work, you can have it greet you with frantic good cheer, or ignore you. And you'd be *amazed* the tricks you could teach him if he has a scripting language and a serial port.


  • You'd want the GACS (Gyroscopic Attitude Control System) option. It's another $500.00, but isn't your robotic kitty worth it?
  • I don't see it so much as a waste then a way of getting the population confortable with the technology. Its interesting that they mentioned 'pet therapy'. The underside of technology is that we will soon have robots replacing people for a number of tasks they really shouldn't. At the moment, yes, a robot cat is more expensive and less effective then a real cat, but eventually it will not be. By the time we have the technology to build a relitivly realistic robotic cat and dog, and so as long as people view them as toys or substitutes for the real thing, the companys' investment will begin to pay off: Robotic home health care or Robotic nursing assistants. Eventually, all of your physical and emotional needs will be provided for via robots and technology. I can't say I'm sure this is for the best.
  • I don't care much for cats, but I would buy a robotic dog. Here's why:

    From job to job, with the tiny, cramped apartments I've had, it would be very cruel to a real dog to keep it so confined. With a robotic dog, I could switch it off, and not feel bad about leaving it in the closet.

    Now, granted, it would be only a temporary thing until I can get a decent house to keep a dog. (Actually, I have a real dog; she's living with my parents (since they have a house with a backyard). And I would much rather have her around than a robotic dog, but it would be a terrible thing to do to her.)
  • Legs off, Fins on, little tube through the back of it's neck, so 'e can breathe, Make Good.
  • So when's an Open Source Penguin Robot gonna come out? What with all the stories about embedded Linux, it could be developed by the community. The most difficult part of it would be the hardware - sensors and things like that. But other than that, it's mostly software.

    Crusoe could even be used to keep it running longer than the one hour that Tama can run at.

    It could be a new distro dubbed RoboLinux, or something like that.

  • This is the greatest robotics related idea since the robot store catalog. I can't wait to see the US version. I wonder what "tama" means. I'm not being sarcastic
  • Anyone who's looking for a fun little robot that's cheap and not hideous (furby, ahem) should look at the WeeBot line of robots at the sharper image []. these things are great!
  • So if you drop it will it land on it's feet.
  • If I'm not mistaken, Doesn't "Tama" mean something like "Kitty" or "Cat" in Japanese? (Ever watch Tamahome in Fushigi Yuugi? He gets mad when Miaka calls him "Tama" and says, "Don't call me a cat!") Who are the geniouses in the Design Department that came up with such an original name? I mean when I hear Tama I think Drum Set. Couldn't they do better. Sony didn't call their toy "Doggy". My 0.02 Cents.
  • another example of doing something because you can?

    I mean robot cats and dogs sheesh!

    Does it leave duracells around as little presents?

    I mean, I suppose its a great toy but an expensive one
  • Poor old Toshi (Tashima).. he's the inventor - the company is Omron [] - famous for making Japanese station ticket mchines, medical systems (as mentioned in the article), and other such business machines. I wonder why the sudden leap in to conumer toys?

    You may also be interested to to know that Tama is probably the most common name for cats in Japan.

  • Yes, Tama in Japan is like Fido is for dogs in the English speaking world. (The Japanese dog equivalent is Pochi)
  • Now you gotta wonder how a Tama and Aibo are going to live together. Maybe something for Robot Wars.
  • It's a toy. Just a toy. It's not really going to replace living things (unless it was a LOT more sophisticated) in anyone's heart or mind.

    That said, I'd love to have one, if only to hack it and make it do things other than the designers intended. But as a pet? Sad. Truly, truly sad.

    I don't think anyone is seriously thinking it would provide companionship. Hell, if you want mechanical companionship that's under $2000, just get a vibrator.

    Or, go to (icky) realdoll []. Now *that's* sad.

    I am the Shmoo. Ku-ku-ka-choo.
  • I'd prefer to get one that didn't have fur on it. No one is going to come over to your house and be fooled by this. They know it's not real. I'd rather have a futuristic looking Aibo. If you have a pet robot, why try to hide the fact?

    On a side note, I read an article in the paper a few months ago about a craft store that sold realistic looking cat statues. It was later found out some were made of real cat pelts. Maybe they'll try that.

  • They really ought to ditch the fur. The silver was so much cooler!

  • Tama, in Japanese means ball or sphere directly translated. Neko is the actual word for cat in Japanese. However, pet cats are often affectionately called "Tama" sort of the way people in English people will refer to any dog as "Rover".


  • if I have a robot cat and a robot dog if they'll fight together.....

    Also, are they planning on having robot kids cause I'm not sure if I want the real thing...

    This is where I should write something
    intelligent or funny but since I'm
  • Actually, "tama" just means sphere. "Tamago", is egg.


  • by zur ( 37151 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:43AM (#1248545)
    They should've called it Five [] :-)
  • he he, I gave Dogz to one of my kids. They worked on it and trained the pet to do little tricks and stuff, cute, but a little lame.

    Then, my oldest son started hacking the variables and he was able to alter the behavior, looks etc. Came up with several mutations that weren't too far off from your description, big buggy eyes, huge teeth etc.

  • Damn, I really should preview...

  • Yeah, a giant Electric Penguin....
    And the blood will spray out, SPEEEEWWWWWW

  • Bagpuss!! There's a name I haven't heard in a long while. Loved that show, singing mice and whatnot!

    You're right though, Tama does look like Bagpuss. Probably comes alive when he's alone like Bagpuss too.

  • You'd want the GACS (Gyroscopic Attitude Control System) option. It's another $500.00, but isn't your robotic kitty worth it?

    The people I know that have cats (extended family and friends) are usually people who are a bit lonely and anyone who would buy something like a robotic cat and then pay an additional $500.00 USD for it is an idiot.

    Quite frankly for that price you can get one of the better purebreed animals or perhaps get a genetically enhanced version. I currently have a small black and white dog that is a mix of a miniture shetland shepdog and something else. Looks real nice, cost a bit but less than this cat.
  • So if you drop it will it land on it's feet.

    Only if you strap toast to it's feet, butter-side-down.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I was watching Johnny Mnemonic the other night and it got me wondering if I might be able to use my cat's brain for data storage. How many gigs can a cat brain hold with a doubler? Check out Cat Dynamics [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    There is a japanese lab that is working on a robot cat that would have more than 10 thousand evolvable artificial neurons coded on FPGA. I hope it succeeds, it would be the first hard A.I.
    I think it is on the same lab that is now supporting the Tierra project.
  • Yeah, but can you geat AIBO to chase it? That would be way past nifty.
  • One of my first cats, Tabitha (she picked the name not I, and responded to it) understood English very well, and spoke a bit also. Her best word was my name... she'd wander about the house calling out Jody, which sounded more like jawwdy; then get extreamly pissed upon finding out I was just sitting around listening to her, and not have a thing to do with me for hours.
  • cat.c

    #include "normals.h"
    #include "catfuncs.h"

    void main(void) {
    while(1) {
    switch(rand()%10) {
    case 0: sleep(); break;
    case 1: pounce(); break;
    case 2: toy(); break;
    case 3: sleep(); break;
    case 4: eat(); break;
    case 5: defecate(); break;
    case 6: shred(); break;
    case 7: sleep(); break;
    case 8: sleep(); break;
    case 9: walk_on_keyboard(); break;
  • by crayz ( 1056 )
    just go here:
  • Not quite a "sudden leap"... they also produce consumer software, and those interactive photo booths which take digital photos, modify them, and print them out for a couple dollars, etc...
  • Forget robotic cats. I want Balloon Doggies.

    Hard to pass on a Critic reference, regardless of how far I have to go to make it.

  • Not a perfect replacement, by any means. Heck, I would love to get a hold of one just for the fun of it. My apartment is too small for a cat as it is. It would be an interesting conversation piece, too. Probably a bit too much money to for just that purpose. Plus, needing a rack of rechargeable batteries. Yeah, I would take one. I wonder if it will have a choice of fur. Better yet....Changeable fur. Cat of the week!!
  • A proper robot cat will learn its name, but will not respond.

    Indeed. It should be programmed to come running at the sound of a can opener.
  • They should've called it Five :-)

    Maybe I'm humor impared this morning but I really don't get this one. Could someone please explain this.
  • All cats respond to their names, they just don't deign to tell you what they are.

    The one we call Maggie is really "sound of can opener" The one we call Kapua is secretly "bag of kitty food being shaken" and lastly, the one we have named most accurately: Curious-about-Bowls, is "Sound of human eating cereal."

  • What, hasn't anybody linked to the ZDNet cartoon about why this is a bad idea []?
  • Anyone ever play Catz or petz? If so, you know what I'm thinking of: I want to train my legion of robotic pets to fear me. I want psychotic pets. I want my neighbors to wonder why there's 30 glowing eyes on my roof all howling at
    the moon in a tin-can like voice. I want them to BEG for their batteries. I want them to develop a strong hatred for the Energizer Bunny, Barney, and Teletubbies. They are to be lasered on sight.

    No I really haven't heard of these care to elaborate?

    In all reality I think you would want the robots to respect you. If you read enough science fiction you will note that irrated robots == robots on revenge. Emerging intelligence would eventually foil your plans.

    For their service, I will provide robotic modifications - ultraviolet lasers with a 1.5M volt output (ultraviolet lasers leave the air the laser fired through ionized providing a path for electrons to follow. Think: tesla coil), evil glowing
    eyes, 180 db pizo-electric buzzers from hell and IR / RF outputs to mess with electronics. These will be the pets from hell

    If you can get them to fear you perhaps the best tactic is to not remove anything. Never make concessions not one with slaves.

    I like that.. the perfect compliment to a BOFH's LART - 30 evil robotic cats. "Awww, aren't they cute - look at those 6" long metal claws.... oh.. wait..." *electronic growling* RUN FOOL RUN!!!!!


    Robots have a great deal of power but they are usually not very accurate or swift. Plus one person with a nice solid wrecking bar or an oak baseball bat would reduce your "army" to scrap metal.
  • Cat 5? As in Cat 5 patch cable?

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • You can make an exact replica of a cat without a lot of fancy robotics. Just:
    1. Find a dead cat, or make one yourself (this is the fun part)
    2. Stuff it (the cat, not you!)
    Ta-daaaaa! You now have a pet that sits there and does nothing, just like a real cat! I suppose robotics could come in handy to make it avoid you, just like a real feline.
  • perhaps because the link you provided has nothing to do with the story? or a cartoon of any form....

    care to try again?
  • "Tama" means "ball", or in colloquial Japanese "a large testicle", which I consider a fascinating insight into the imaginations of Nihonjin engineers.
  • A well-designed, inexpensive robot cat could have a place. If you cannot keep a live cat for some reason (i.e., live alone and travel a lot, or the landlord has a strict no-pets policy), a robot that fulfils the functions of a cat (i.e., receives and gives affection, responds positively to being stroked, plays with small objects/laser pointers, &c.) could be a good substitute. Implementing it well, however, is an entirely different question.

    One could even envision a travel version, where the physical robot cat is dispensed with altogether, and replaced with a small box connected to a pair of video glasses and a tactile feedback glove. Switch it on and a virtual cat appears, which you can interact with.
  • It's funny how we're getting closer and closer to Philip K. Dick's reality in his Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (for many people better known as the source material Blade Runner).

    In his visionary novel, set in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic future, live animals are mostly extinct, and artificial (designed and genetically engineered, although not robotic) animals and humans exist as luxury objects.

    It's ironic and sad that we keep looking for, and hoping to discover, life on other planets, when at the same time we're eliminating those on our own. Someday, as spaceships probe planet after planet for life in remote galaxies and come up emptyhanded, and we realize how special and precious our little ecological fluke of a planet is, we will understand this better. Until then we're doomed to shoot ourselves in our feet, collectively, and unknowingly.

    Perhaps one day we'll learn to develop such artificial creatures complex enough to serve as substitutes for the real kind, and we'll forget about the real ones. As human settlements expand (and they do), we'll eventually overrun the animal kingdom, which already has a large number of endangered species.

    I suspect that, sometime in the future, not too far off, we will have ceased to look upon the idea of a robotic animal only as a quaint, cute, and practical toy with a convenient "off" button, but as the only available alternative. Welcome to a penguin-less future.

  • one word: cactus
    ------------------------------------------ --
  • Good point.

    And if I want a cool robot to follow me around - I'll buy/make one who looks like a robot. Wheels, wires, blinking leds, and so on.
  • I have 2 real dogs, & 2 real cats. When they die, I'll look into robotics for replacements.

    Why? Vet bills & food for the past 5 years have totaled ~20k$, & I expect them to live for ~5 years more (some were adopted, so are older than 5).

    "But where's the actual 'love' a -real- pet can give you?" Bah. Simple behaviours which should be fairly easy to reproduce - & I'd imagine in 5 years the AI's will be fairly sophisticated. Dog rubs his head against my leg when I come home, cat walks up to have his head scratched & be petted - how hard would this be to reproduce? Not very, I'd think.

    I'm attached to this machine - why not to one which can walk & bark? W/ luck & upgrades, I could potentially play some video games against it, something you can't do w/ a real dog - imagine trying to teach Rover chess.

    That being said, current AIBO's are seriously lacking:

    a) They're puppies. Puppies are, by their nature, limited; poor balance & coordination, not very smart. In a big-dog world, they can't compete. If you want a watchdog, forget a perma-puppy: burglar deterrence factor zero.

    b) They're cheaply constructed. A quick look through AIBO message boards & mailing lists shows breakdowns aplenty; lotsa AIBO's out there w/ limps or worse.

    c) Batteries & power; not strictly SONY's fault, but battery technology (fuel cells?) needs to get better for these to be effective. & at the minimum, they need to be able to find their charger & plug themselves in w/o intervention when needed.

    My idea of an ideal AIBO: size & shape of a doberman, full-grown; stainless steel, aluminum, & titanium construction (maybe a carbon fiber shell over aluminum would work, I'd imagine keeping weight down would help the servos a bit). Servos capable of the same output as a real dog's muscles (more, of course, would be fine). The ability to run & jump. Face recognition, voice recognition. 12 hour battery life (roughly what a real dog can do before needing sleep under rough conditions). A 10 year warranty on parts.

    If this were made, I'd pay 50k$ for it happily - this would be a 'dog' without any of the current heartache of vet visits, peeing on carpets, mood swings, & eventual death.

    Someone make it; I will come.
  • Yeah, but just think how cool it probably looks *underneath* all that fur .

    I can imagine stripping the fur and creating a kinds Terminator effect robocat.

    Now there's a thought!

  • If it won't attack my feet and gnaw on them when I'm trying to sleep. Or leap around the room for no apparent reason.

    It's not a *real* cat if you don't stop yelling "Down!" at it.

  • If its as stupid as either of my cats, it CAN'T recognize its name.

    One of them, Flatulent is the least congenial creature I can imagine saddling any pet owner with. The other, Brain Damage is about as lively as a dead carp...

    They make wonderful evening companions after a beer bash. Flatulent is as ornery, uncoordinated and swilled as I've ever managed to get and Brain Dead is a great pal, if you like to hang around the coma ward at the hospital

    And they only ever say two things:

    When dinner?and

    Everything here is mine!

    Like what kind of an idiot would shell out good dough for, uh, I did. And worse.. Like Frankenstein's monster They're, Alive!!

    Never mind...
  • It is. From the article:

    Microphones embedded in the cat's head enable her to recognise her own name and react by turning her head and blinking coyly.

  • Every cat I've ever had responds to its name (9 cats). And both of my cats that I have now will actually come when you call them by name, without the help of food or bribes - and to their own name, too, not the other cat's. Well, at least 85% of the time, but if they are feeling pissy or lazy they always do turn their head and blink, just like the robot.

    In fact, most dog lovers/catphobes claim that they would have liked cats more if they had known my cats as a child, because they are very friendly and intelligent. I think it's great that they are trying to improve AI by moving up from a dog to a cat. It seems like it would be much harder to simulate or code for cat-like stimulus response, which is often subtle and follows a certain complex reasoning of its own, rather than dogs, which I have found in personal experience to be much more predictable and overtly command-oriented.

    Don't get me wrong - I've had a fair number of dogs, too, and I've loved them all. Their social behavior is essentially more cooperative than cats, but only the very smartest dogs I've ever met seem even as intelligent as average cats to me. And, the smart dogs are often "cat-like" in behavior as well, being less prone to do any trick or command at the drop of a hat just because you ask them to.

    We must move forwards, not backwards, upwards, not forwards, and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom. - Klinn-ton
  • Thanks a lot asshole! If I get fired for this, expect a call from a lawyer!
  • I cant believe it we've made a cat that LISTENS for its own name!!!!

    My cats have NEVER done that.
  • Does it leave duracells around as little presents?


    I am the Lord.

  • I'd prefer to get one that didn't have fur on it.

    "Mini-me, we do not gnaw on our kitty, now stroke mini-Mr. Bigglesworth."

    -- Give him Head? Be a Beacon?

  • Who would want to spend money on a purebred? They're almost all sick and unhealthy from all the inbreeding required to create the breed in the first place.
  • RoboPlant(TM) is due out in store in time for Christmas. It's much better than a plant, because its RoboPlant!!

    It just sits on the table doing nothing...


    If you water it, it dies.


    If you talk to it, it does nothing...


    Gotta get 'em all!!!!!
  • This post has been selected for a monkey moderation.

    Due to this post, a monkey with antlers strapped to its head was set free in a forest in Mebane, North Carolina. An hour later, the monkey was found dead... strapped to the hood of some yokel's truck.


  • I submitted this story last night, but added the comment that if Tama didn't respond to your voice, the manufacturer could just claim that it was behaving like a normal cat.
  • lol, I never click on score:0 links.. oh well :P
  • Well, the joke for some time has been that the Orgasmatron was invented *years* ago, but that the inventor still hasn't made it to the patent office ;)
  • Check out Mark Tilden from LANL, and his robots built from a handful of discrete components
    Here []

    Actually, I think some hybrid combination of this with digital management and nonvolatile storage might eventually win out.
  • I think the name Script Kitty is funnier...

    It is, but Illiad wasn't the first to think of it. Check out the Script Kittie on the OpenBSD 2.6 cover art []. He isn't explicitly called that on the cover, but that's what he's called on the t-shirt page [].

    I think that the cat is sort of dumb (The UF cat, not the BSD one!). Perhaps Illiad a bit distracted about going to CeBIT? Or maybe his creative juices are running low after the kick-ass "Pitr the Borg vs. Crud Puppy" arc.

    Hmmm, what should Pitr's "Borg name" be? I'm wagering on "vi of IX". (Emacs users, just ignore that.) ;-)

    Yes, it's official. Jesus uses vi.

    I am the Lord.

  • What we really need is a critter with a loadable personality module.

    When talking cars came out "The door is ajar." I thought it would be fun to produce personality modules to replace the ho-hum voices vehicles came with. At the time, Mr. T was a celebrity and I thought the Mr. T version could say, "You left the door open, FOOL! When's that las' time you checked the oil in this thang?!"

  • - Tama's batteries only keep her going for one hour.

    No, but Tama has about the same battery life of my real cat. I wish I could sleep that much.

  • We have a clear and obveous faker here... mos. [Hemos.]
    is not mos [Hemos]
    It's the same prank pulled on Bruce Perens a while back...

    Looks like we have some FakerDots to contend with... (FakerDots meaning dot behind the nick not meaning SlashDot fakers.. Just wanted to make it clear where my mem comes from) :)
  • Didn't this thing make a living driving cars off cliffs for Saturday Night Live?
  • Deprecated dun said:

    What kind of a cat responds to its name? A proper robot cat will learn its name, but will not respond.

    Actually, my cat will respond to her name, either by coming over or making little chirpy-meows at you or meowing "for ME?".

    Then again, it can truthfully be said that my cat isn't exactly a normal kitty, either. Firstly, her name is Dementia (Demi for short) because as a kitten, her first act upon being brought home was to chase her tail and bite it continuously for five hours straight (and even to this day, she will still occasionally do it...chasechasechase, bite, "ow", licklicklick, "ooh, it's MOVING!", chasechasechase...rolling around in a ball of kitty). Secondly, she is about the only non-Siamese-descended kitty I know of that makes a concerted effort to learn English (Demi is what is known in cat circles as an Exotic Shorthair--half-Persian, half American Shorthair--they have very plush, almost chinchilla-like coats and shorter faces than most farm-kitties)...she can say "For me?", "Mom", "Throw it" VERY clearly, and she mutter-meows other stuff (like when she is having a conversation with Mommy or Daddy). Thirdly, Anything Mommy Does, Demi Must Do (including asking Mommy if clothes are for her, trying to help Mommy post to Slashdot, trying to help Mommy and/or Daddy fix dinner while asking if it's for her, etc.). She will even copy mannerisms at times...including trying to dance once when her dad went "Bust a move, Demi!" trying to get her off of a FAQ for a Playstation game :). Fourthly, for some weird reason her catnip gene never kicked in until she was two years old, and her catnip abuse consists of the following: a) roll on bag of catnip and attempt to kill bag. b) Pick up a mouthful and throw it after huffing catnip fumes when Mommy opens bag to get some out for Demi. c) Spend next four hours licking walls, carpet, and any other available objects. Fifthly, she was one of the few cats I've ever seen who drool when excited (she's finally gotten over that, thank Goddess).

    This is why she is generally known as Demi the half-a-kitty around the house. The body is definitely that of a kitty. The brain, we have doubts about ;) (And it's not because she's imprinted on humans, husband got her when she was twelve weeks old (near the top limit of when you CAN adopt kittens before they start turning feral on you) and she'd lived all her life before then as a farm-kitten (among working farm-cats). She's just crazy. ;)

  • Cassandra dun said:
    Microphones embedded in the cat's head enable her to recognise her own name and react by turning her head and blinking coyly.

    Awwwwwwww :3 (You do realise that kitty "slow blinky eyes" is actually how kitties "kiss" each other, right? It's basically kitty-ese for "I love you", along with kitty making biscuits on you ("Mommy!") and nuzzling you ("You're mine and I'm marking you as mine and nobody else can have you"). Seriously. Get a good book on kitty body language like Catwatching...)

    (As an aside, sometimes I've wondered if that's why me and Demi get along so well. I can "speak" cat, she does a better-than-average job for kitties at "speaking" human, so we can actually have pretty involved conversations. ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 24, 2000 @10:43AM (#1248627)
    Instead of giving a home to a REAL cat or dog that is either homeless or going to be put to sleep, stupid geeks pay $3000+ for a stupid robotic pet. GET A LIFE PEOPLE! If you want a dog, GET A REAL DOG!
  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:44AM (#1248632)
    Anyone ever play Catz or petz? If so, you know what I'm thinking of: I want to train my legion of robotic pets to fear me. I want psychotic pets. I want my neighbors to wonder why there's 30 glowing eyes on my roof all howling at the moon in a tin-can like voice. I want them to BEG for their batteries. I want them to develop a strong hatred for the Energizer Bunny, Barney, and Teletubbies. They are to be lasered on sight.

    For their service, I will provide robotic modifications - ultraviolet lasers with a 1.5M volt output (ultraviolet lasers leave the air the laser fired through ionized providing a path for electrons to follow. Think: tesla coil), evil glowing eyes, 180 db pizo-electric buzzers from hell and IR / RF outputs to mess with electronics. These will be the pets from hell

    I like that.. the perfect compliment to a BOFH's LART - 30 evil robotic cats. "Awww, aren't they cute - look at those 6" long metal claws.... oh.. wait..." *electronic growling* RUN FOOL RUN!!!!!


  • by MosesJones ( 55544 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:47AM (#1248634) Homepage

    How would you know, they always ignore you until they're hungry. A great marketing ploy

    "Ignores you just like a real Cat"

    Next ARPO the robotic Whelk just like having the real thing.

  • by deprecated ( 86120 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:49AM (#1248635) Homepage Journal
    What kind of a cat responds to its name? A proper robot cat will learn its name, but will not respond.
  • by Skim123 ( 3322 ) <[mitchell] [at] []> on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:51AM (#1248639) Homepage
    A robot cat, eh? What fun is that?

    Homer: Ooh, I want to pet Santa's Little Helper again.
    Marge: Homer, you just petted him. Why don't you pet the cat.
    Homer: The cat? What's the point?

  • Not to be too contrary, but the companies name is Omron and the creator's name is Toshihiro Tashima (as stated in the first two paragraphs).
  • A robotic penguin wouldn't be hard.

    Stan Winston made a bunch of them for Batman Returns.
  • Is it just me or does it look spookily like Bagpuss (star of nightmare-inducing 1970s necromancy-fest masquerading as kids' show)? Will they stop there? Will we end up with Professor Yaffle the woodpecker, Gabriel the toad, Madeline the rag doll and the rest of the demonic horde? Perhaps even the mice on the mouse organ????

    Nick (hiding behind sofa)

    PS For those of you who have never seen Bagpuss, think Reanimator crossed with those Chucky movies.

  • by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:52AM (#1248660) Homepage Journal
    Let's see... robotic cat.... needs to be able to:

    -Sit comatose for hours on end
    -Meow incessantly for no reason whatsoever
    -Mindlessly scratch all furniture it sees to shreads
    -Ignore everything that people say to it

    The technology to accomplish this has existed for decades.



  • by DonkPunch ( 30957 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @07:54AM (#1248662) Homepage Journal
    I'm not really supposed to disclose this, but....

    There is a software API for this thing. I wrote a large part of it. I basically modeled it on my own cat.

    It supports the following calls:

    sleep() /* May be called anytime, anywhere */


    go_potty() /* Works best when passed a proper LITTERBOX struct */

    shred() /* If no arg, defaults to last FURNITURE struct */

    pounce() /* May be called with claws=true/false and teeth=true/false */

    sleep_more() /* Added 11/15/99. More realism. */

    Pretty much covers it, I think.
  • This would be a great opportunity to showcase a new show for "Futurama"...the Aibo and Tama show? They would just stare at each other and respond slowly to one another's reactions, throw in a Furbie and we are talking about Fox's next reality show, "When Robots Stare At Each Other!"
  • by Prof_Dagoski ( 142697 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @08:00AM (#1248667) Homepage
    A friend of mine had a very realistic looking cat stuffy. She used leave it perched on her window sill in the dorm. When ever passerbys would look into her window, she'd grab a large book and violently whack the stuffed animal. College was such fun.
  • What a sad people the Japanese must be. Here you have to worry about growing old with 20 or 30 cats. There you don't even get real cats. This makes me sad.
  • And as we all know, even Jar-Jar Binks can defeat an army of lethally-armed battle droids almost single handed ;o)

    Consciousness is not what it thinks it is
    Thought exists only as an abstraction

  • As I read that, suddenly I realized the horrible truth behind my job... they're doing an experiment on me to see how to turn a human into a cat!

    - comatose? Check!
    - ignoring all external stimuli? Check!
    - fiercely territorial? Check!
    - social only before mealtimes? Check!

    My goodness -- I'm the behavioral model for RoboCat! I wonder if it knows Perl?


  • Well, this isnt't exactly the sort of artificial pussy I was hoping for ...

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.