Want a pet without the feeding or mess? Robot pets sound like science fiction, but they’re actually here! Petoi, the robot pet company, has created programmable pets with AI options for more realism. Discover how robot pets work and more…

Owning a pet is a lot of work. After all, you’re responsible for feeding, cleaning up after, exercising, and providing comprehensive care for your furry friend, and it can get exhausting. Pets can also bring considerable expense in the form of food, vet visits, and boarding when you’re on vacation. However, a company called Petoi has developed an alternative: robot cats and dogs. These robots use a bionic system to perform dynamic movements and are programmable via various methods. You can also install artificial intelligence chips to make them even more realistic. Here’s what you should know before purchasing a Petoi robot pet for your family.

a man using coding language to program a pet

 

It sounds futuristic, but it’s now possible to add a robot pet to your family. While the technology is in its infancy, it’s an exciting development for those pet lovers who can’t care for one full-time or aren’t allowed to have pets in their apartments. 

Bittle, the Open Source Robot Dog

Petoi currently has two pet types available for purchase, starting with Bittle, a palm-sized dog available in three colors and three different packages. 

Depending on your preferences, you can purchase Bittle pre-assembled or unassembled, and it comes with a 7.4V rechargeable Li-ion battery, ten P1S servos, a NyBoard V1, and an infrared remote. It also has a USB programmer, a Bluetooth dongle, and a Wi-Fi dongle, giving you multiple ways to communicate with your pet.

There are numerous options for controlling the pet, too. For the basic user, Bittle has pre-programmed, realistic behaviors that give you an authentic pet experience. You can also control the robot yourself using an app on your mobile device or program it via Scratch, C++, or Python coding. Sensor extensions with Raspberry Pi and Arduino allow for even more interaction with your pet.

Programming experience is recommended to get the most from your pet, but you can use it right out of the box and learn along the way. 

Nybble, the Open Source Robot Cat

A cat scratching furniture, which Nybble doesn't do.

 

Nybble, the cat, allows feline lovers to get in on the fun. This robot works much the same as Bittle, as it has a USB uploader, Bluetooth dongle, and Wi-Fi dongle for communication, along with servos, an ultrasonic sensor, and a Nyboard.

You can program Nybble with more cat-like behaviors with Python or C++, and the robot is extensible by adding Raspberry Pi or Arduino chips after purchase. 

Remember that much like Bittle, Nybble is small enough to fit in your palm, so it isn’t a full-sized pet replacement. 

How These Robots Work

Both Bittle and Nybble are pre-programmed to work right out of the box with various intrinsic and dynamic movements. They work best on flat surfaces, but the bionic structure of their legs allows them to move on unstructured terrain, too. 

These pets can do tricks and will interact with you without any additional programming, but the real fun begins when you customize your pet.

Programming your pet allows you to give it a personality and even more dynamic movements. It can interact with the environment when you add sensors and mount an AI chip, as these additions give it perception, much like a real pet. 

Basically, the computer chips inside the robot instruct it on how to move, but these instructions are customizable for those who know a programming language.

Programming Your Pet

a graphic depicting STEM, for which robots pets are a valuable learning tool.

 

Learning a coding language is challenging, especially if you have no experience. However, these pets make an excellent learning tool because you’ll get to see your progress as you program your pet. 

The good news is that as the online robot pet community expands, more information on how to program these products becomes available. There’s a forum on the Petoi website providing a wealth of information on programming and troubleshooting issues with your pet, ensuring you can get the most from your purchase. 

There are plenty of introduction-to-coding courses available online, too, in addition to a Bittle-specific course you can take. In short, if you’re serious about learning programming to customize your Bittle or Nybble, there’s no shortage of information available for you.

The Future of Pet Ownership

We could be entering a new period of pet ownership as robot technology becomes more prevalent and accessible. In the coming years, we could see completely dynamic and intelligent robot pets reach mainstream status as a valid replacement for traditional pets.

Would you purchase a robot pet for your family? Let us know in the comment section below, and don’t forget to share this information with the coding geek or pet lover in your life.

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