Remember those trendy robotic dog toys from a couple years back? Aibo and Poo-chi and the like? Well, sadly, after 6-year-olds tire of the novelty of electronic pets who can fetch balls, bark the national anthem and do silly little dances, there is not much left in the life of a toy robotic dog. Thats why we love Natalie Jeremijenko’s awesome eco / educational / engineering / art project which teaches students how to refurbish old toy robotic dogs and give them new life – turning them into lean green pollution-sniffing machines.
I first heard about this project through the Cooper-Hewitt’s Design Triennial Exhibition (which is still up – go check it up before it ends in July). Imagine my surprise when reading about the Feral Dogs project I saw a giant photograph of Inhabitat’s own tech-guru Jeff Warren hanging on the wall of the Cooper-Hewitt. I’m not sure why this escaped our attention for so long, but 3 of the Inhabitat’s programmer possee (Vestal Design) were intimately involved in the beginning of the Feral Robotic Dog project with Natalie Jeremijenko: Jeff Warren, Diego Rotalde and Mike Lin – proving again that Vestal Design is the raddest bunch of eco-design-engineers on the planet.
In this video a student from the UCSD electronics department hacks a robot dog to sense pollution on the San Diego campus. The video is adorable – watch to see the dog bark at a dry-erase board marker!