Ever since Sony’s AIBO was taken to the robots’ abattoir we’ve had a big hole in our life for a mechanical pet. Wowwee’s Robopanda and Roboquad have both auditioned for the position, but are both more disturbing than loveable. Finally, though, our long search is over – we’ve found Pleo, the amazing robot dinosaur.

Adopt a Pleo

You look after Pleo from his birth and guide him through his juvenile years. It’s a bit like having a puppy, but luckily there’s no sick or robopoop to clean up.

Once charged, Pleo spends the first few hours crying, learning how to walk and checking out his new surroundings. As he grows, he develops a personality and an impressive selection of movements that puts the likes of Homosapien and Robonova to shame.

You interact with him using his various touch, sight and hearing sensors. For example, he’ll react to you stroking his head or back with an appreciative grunt. Pick him up and shake him about like a rag doll and you’ll upset the poor chap. Continue to abuse him and you’ll affect his character in later life turning him into a timid recluse. Shame on you!

He also comes with his very own ‘training leaf.’ Yes, it’s a plastic leaf that he can see using the motion sensors around his mouth. You can use it to ‘feed’ Pleo or play ‘tug of war’ with him. While other robots need a remote to get them to do stuff, you can leave Pleo to do his own thing.

Downloadable dino-fun

But the fun doesn’t stop there. There’s a whole online community where fellow Pleo obsessives can go and discuss the antics of their own ‘bots in Plogs (Pleo blogs). Over at www.pleoworld.com you can even download new sounds and behaviours to an SD card and slip it into the slot under Pleo’s belly.

If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can always download the Pleo Development Pack. This allows you to make customisable programmes for the little guy. Sadly, ‘attack the paperboy’ isn’t one of them, but our love for Pleo remains undimmed, despite his emphatic loss to our Lego Mindstorms scorpion in a head-to-head battle.

Stuff says... 

Ugobe Pleo review

Little Pleo has stolen Stuff’s heart and helped heal the wounds inflicted by the departure of AIBO. He’s so life-like, it seems insulting to call him a robot