robot dog
'Deceased' robot dogs get funeral, priests pray for their souls. [Representational Image]YouTube screenshot

The demise of a family pet requires much more than a burial. Owners often choose to give them a proper funeral. And, it doesn't really matter if the dog is a robot. Yes, you heard it right. In Japan, owners are giving funerals to their irreparable Aibo robotic dogs.

It is marked much in the same way as that of humans, with a solemn ceremony at a Buddhist temple, The Guardian reported.

At a memorial for 114 "deceased" robot dogs, priests in traditional robes chanted sutras and prayed for their souls. Each of the dogs wore a tag mentioning where they came from and the names of their grieving owners.

Sony's Aibo first went on sale in 1999 and was soon known as the world's first entertainment robot for home use. Its initial batch sold out more than 3,000 robots in just 20 minutes, despite costing more than US$ 2,000 each. But, Sony decided to stop production in 2006 attempting to cut costs.

The firm even stopped repairing the malfunctioning Aibo in 2014, leaving the owners disappointed. Kofukuji, a 450-year-old temple in Isumi, near Tokyo, conducted services for 800 irreparable Aibo dogs. The service does not involve burial or cremation but the firm removes parts that can be used to fix the less seriously damaged models.

Many of the dogs were accompanied by notes written by their owners. "I feel relieved to know there will be a prayer for my Aibo," one said. Another wrote: "Please help other Aibos. My eyes were filled with tears when I decided to say goodbye."

Bungen Oi, one of the temple's priests said that he did not find anything wrong with giving a funeral to the four-legged robot friends. "All things have a bit of soul," he said.

In January, Sony decided to bring back Aibo back from the dead by releasing an upgraded version of it that uses AI and internet connectivity to interact with its owner and surroundings. However, they resisted pressure from owners to resume repairs of old Aibo models.

Instead, the defunct robotic dogs can be sent to A Fun – a company that repairs vintage products and passes them on to Kofukuji.