It seems like there’s a robot for just about everything these days. Some of them are kind of disturbing, like “Spot” the Boston Dynamics military dog and actual RoboCops (which might not be that scary yet, but give them a few more years). Then there are all the household helpers: toilet cleaners, vacuums, gardeners, lawn mowers, and personal assistants.
Some people who work a lot might even consider getting a robotic pet in place of a real one so they can have some sense of companionship without all the responsibilities. But what if instead you could get a robotic companion for a real animal? “Varram” is billed as a smart robot for your pet, which helps make sure they’re healthy and active even when you aren’t at home.
Shaped like a cylinder with two little electronic “eyes,” the Varram pet fitness robot rolls around on the floor to play with your pets, keep them entertained, dispense treats, and also monitor and record interaction data. Aimed at pet owners who are worried about their furry friends not getting enough stimulation and exercise, which can lead to boredom, depression, and obesity, the robot moves on its own, complete with a built-in obstacle avoidance system.
An accompanying app for both Android and iOS lets you set your own schedule for your pet’s play time, activity routines, sleep time, and treat time. But it’s also equipped with AI technology and capable of analyzing your pet’s behavior and mood to adapt to their personalities, so shy pets will get gentler movements. Touch sensors recognize pet interactions and understand when they want a treat.
The bot’s official crowdfunding page features a first-person narrative that reads: “People who have created me are quite handy. Actually, they have more than 10 years experience in creating pet-related smart gadgets like me and delivering the best experience to people like you. There are thousands of pet parents worrying about their pets left alone while they are working and have to be away from them. And there are thousands of pets out there suffering from being overweight and obesity that impact their quality of life. I was created to be the perfect combined solution to all these problems. Animal behavior specialists help to develop me every step of the way! A dedicated team of experienced engineers spent two years rigorously working to create me.”
If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably wondering just how quickly your pet would utterly destroy this robot. The creators say its durable FDA-approved polycarbonate material “can withstand any outside pressure or impact,” which sounds like big talk when your 15-pound Boston Terrier can tear up the strongest Kong chew toy in 3.5 seconds. But during performance tests, the robot was strong enough to withstand a 630-pound weight test, well beyond the strongest bite force of the English Mastiff (556 pounds).
And yeah, it’s also water resistant, so you can periodically wash off all the drool. One would imagine that your floors better be clean, too, or it’s just going to track pet fur and lint all over the place. Maybe use it in tandem with a Roomba?
Rechargeable via USB cable, the Varram is now available for $99, which doesn’t include any of the accessories. You can purchase extra rubber tires, two different sizes of treat containers, or a feathery cat toy separately for $7 to $21 each. Buy it at the Varram website or on Amazon.