The pets of the future are coming. We, as a species, may not have figured out how to make lab-created super pets like tiny elephants and gene-modified dragons, but robotic pets are within our reach. We know you’ve been dreaming of having a robot to call your own ever since Johnny Five was alive in Short Circut, or you saw your first Transformers as a kid, but we had to settle for toys that, at best, roll cross the floor and light up. Luckily, that’s no longer the case. Now there’s a robot cat you can back on Kickstarter.
Why Pick a Robotic Pet?
There are plenty of good reasons to choose robotic pets over real animals. For example, there’s no mess to clean up, and unless you program them to knock glasses off tables, some of the kitty quirks that make real cats so troublesome won’t be a problem. While MarsCat can get in a catbox and scratch around, it still won’t ever leave you a stinky surprise. Additionally, there’s no vet bills and no hairballs.
A robot like MarsCat doesn’t shed or have any dander, so pet allergy sufferers can have one without fearing for their sinuses. Plus, it saves on vacuuming and even dusting time since dust in homes is made up of things like animal dander and dead skin cells. Moreover, there’s one reason above all others that we might want to consider a robotic pet instead of a live one. Any pet owner who’s had more than one animal knows the heartbreak that comes with losing their fuzzy friend. With a robot, there are upgrades, and maybe repairs, but no death. Unless your house burns down, in which case you have other, more pressing issues, you’ll still have the same robot cat. In fact, your robot cat will outlive you with proper maintenance.
The “Bionic” Cat
MarsCat is easily one of the coolest things coming out for the public in the world of robotics. However, there’s one thing we have to mention that it isn’t. MarsCat keeps getting mislabeled as a “Bionic” pet, and that’s not the case at all. The difference between a robot and a bionic life form is a crucial distinction. Until AI reaches the point of self-sufficiency where it can argue for its own status as a life form because it is self-aware and evolving (not anytime soon), then a robot, no matter how well programmed, is just a robot. They can mimic life, but not possess it.
There are bionic life forms already. It may surprise you to learn that there are bionic people. When it comes to the distinctions between bionics, robots, and even cyborgs, which are similar can get a little confusing. The quickest way to explain it is this. A robot is all machine and programming. A bionic life form is part robot and part living tissue, and a cyborg is a living brain that controls both live tissue and robotic or mechanical parts. Hence, this extremely cool robotic cat is not bionic because it has no living parts.
Developing your MarsCat is part of the fun. Just like a real kitten, the way you interact with this incredible robot changes the way it reacts to you. The MarsCat responds to your personality and how you interact with it. It can develop six different personality types from lazy to social, shy to energetic, and more. Amusingly, while MarsCat won’t ever shred your paperwork, and probably won’t sit on the book you’re reading, it does have some of a real cat’s ability to be snarky. You don’t have to worry about what happens to your cat if you ignore or forget it except for one personality quirk. When you don’t spend any time with it, your robot cat may refuse to play until you show it affection until it’s ‘happy’ again.
Making MarsCat Your Own
One of the coolest innovations for this unique pet is its programmability. In addition to the way it learns and changes based on your interactions, you can change its programming. MarsCat is opensource, and as a result, you can edit and add to its abilities and actions. From changing the color of MarsCat’s eyes to programming unique actions and responses, anyone who wants (and knows how) to program their pet to be one of a kind is welcome to do so. The ability to customize your pet is something you don’t have with a live animal. Sure, you can shave patterns in their fur, and teach them tricks, but with a robot cat, you can design its personality. They come in different colors as well, so you can choose the color scheme that best suits you, or even pick a kitty who matches the drapes and still get the exact personality you want.
Should You Back MarsCat?
Deciding what Kickstarters to back can be a difficult choice. You should always do your research and see if the company has a successful history like Elephant Robotics, the parent company that’s creating MarsCat. Choosing to support great independent projects like this robotic cat is one way to help artists and scientists everywhere continue to make amazing and unique things. If you really want a robotic cat of our own, then the best way to make it happen is to help fund the people who want to make one for you. Plus, you might get a discount on a MarsCat when they come out for being part of the project. That’s one of the best bonuses offered by Kickstarter creators. People who help them achieve their dreams can end up owning some genuinely amazing swag at half price, or get other rewards like shirts and stickers as a thank you for helping. In the end, it’s up to you whether you think a project like MarsCat is worth backing.
We love a good Kickstarter project, and we rarely come across one quite so intriguing and fun as MarsCat. If you’ve been dreaming of having robots at home since you were little like some of us have, then you should consider getting a MarsCat. Someday soon Elephant Robotics or a company like them that started with Kickstarter projects might be the ones to finally come up with that robot butler, or a housemaid like Rosie from the Jetsons. Until then, we can play with MarsCat.