MarsCat, the robot cat in crowdfunding on Kickstarter
Robot puppies have been back in vogue for a few years now. They are significantly more sophisticated than the pocket pets enjoyed by kids and adults in the 1990s. They are also more expensive. A new cat-like model has arrived on Kickstarter. Elephant Robotics, the producer of MarsCat, will offer it for $1,299.
Sony in Japan and the U.S. has been selling Aibo, a robot dog that costs $3,000 for quite a while and, if that’s not enough, it also allows you to buy a number of extra features and services via the app.
Even the virtual food for the dog can be purchased separately, which comes across as a bit sadistic. If you have a robot dog that is programmed to simulate the emotions and the kind of interactions of a real dog, it’s obvious that you feel bad about not feeding it!
MarsCat is cheaper, but its still high tech, and the launch price for the Kickstart backers starts at $649.
The “first bionic cat in history” (as it is advertised) comes to life thanks to a Raspberry Pi 3. MarsCat is designed to behave like a real cat that wants to perform a whole series of actions spontaneously, without the owner giving him specific orders.
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Choose the cat you like
Elephant Robotics, the company behind MarsCat, claims that the cat’s personality is shaped differently depending on how it is used. For example, the fact that you often talk to the robot will cause it to become a rather chatty cat, meowing much more frequently than normal.
Anyway, the MarsCat software is completely open-source, and one of the most interesting features of this product is the possibility to customize its behavior and functions by reprogramming it.
Each MarsCat has six touch sensors and recognizes what’s happening around it thanks to a 5MP camera positioned at the nose level. For example, you can freely set the color of the eyes, with the possibility to choose also some peculiar options. For example, two huge fuchsia hearts instead of pupils. But that’s just the icing on the cake, the possibilities are almost endless.
As for all the products promoted via Kickstarter, it is worth remembering that we are not talking about a “final” product for sale on a store, but an experimental project, with all the uncertainties that this entails.
When MarsCat ends its crowdfunding period and begins to be sold through traditional channels, Elephant Robotics will offer it for $1,299. In other words, if you’ve always dreamed of having a programmable robot cat at will, and if you’re willing to shell out the money for this Kickstarter campaign, it could be the chance of a lifetime. MarsCats are currently available in four colors: black, white grey and tiger.
(Featured image by Brett Jordan via Unsplash)
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