Canned food-opening robot wants to feed your pets in your absence

Are you one of those people who are alarmed about the forthcoming rise of the robots, or someone who’s happy to kick back in an easy chair and let Short Circuit’s Johnny 5 and friends pick up the slack?

Wherever you sit on this sliding scale, a new Kickstarter robot pet feeder called PawBot may give you pause (paws?) for thought. Described by its creators as the world’s first automated cat and dog wet food dispenser, it’s a gadget that will wait until the moment you choose, then automatically open your specified number of cans of cat or dog food, and dump them into your beloved pet’s bowl.

Do you trust a robot arm to be able to exhibit the kind of fine-grain precision movement needed to not only open a can and pop its lid, but also to place its contents neatly into a bowl and eject it? What better, lower-stakes way to test such cutting-edge innovation than by placing it in control of keeping your beloved pet alive while you’re away on vacation?

PawBot boasts a touchscreen LCD display for selecting the times to feed your furry friend. Inside, there’s a robot arm, storage space for 18 cans and multiple clean bowls, washing section for cleaning its robotic pincers, trash container, and automated can opener.

It certainly looks pretty neat from the demo on the Kickstarter campaign, although as both a pet owner and someone who sees tech screwups on a regular basis, I’m not sure that this is going to replace getting my neighbors to pop in to see how Biggles the cat is doing when I’m away.

If you do fancy getting hold of a robot pet feeder, however, you can pre-order PawBot on Kickstarter — where you’ll have to put a $140 down-payment against an eventual retail cost in the region of $3,000.

It had better work as advertised for that price!

Emerging Tech

Science says waste beer could help us live on Mars

Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder have developed a new super-insulating gel, created from beer waste, which could one day be used for building greenhouse-like habitats on Mars.
Cars

A bit of patchwork can have you back on the road

Flat tires often come at the worst possible time. Whether you're fixing a flat tire or replacing it, our step-by-step how-to guide will help you get your car back on the road with time to spare.
Mobile

Is your smartphone frozen? Here's how to reset your iPhone

You can do a lot with an iPhone, but if you ever run into an issue with it, the first thing you should do is restart it. In this guide, we tell you how to reset your iPhone, and explain how it differs from a factory reset.
Home Theater

TV calibration 101: Here's how to tune up the picture of your new TV

You’ve got your new TV out of the box, but now what? Our TV picture adjustment guide takes you through the simple steps to get the best picture from your brand new TV so you can set it and forget it.
Mobile

Need to record calls on an iPhone? Check out our handy guide

Are you wondering how to record calls on your iPhone? It isn't as easy as you might think, but we'll walk you through the process of doing so with Google Voice, and identify several other apps and external voice recorders that can help.
Emerging Tech

Engineers have made a new type of lithium battery that won’t explode

While statistically rare, the lithium-ion batteries used in mobile devices have been known to burst into flames. Researchers from University of Michigan have been working to change that.
Emerging Tech

Genetically engineered bacteria paint microscopic masterpieces

By engineering E. coli bacteria to respond to light, scientists at the University of Rome have guided it like tiny drones toward patterns that depict Leonardo da Vinci’s masterpiece, the Mona Lisa.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk’s Boring Company wants to dig a tunnel to Dodger Stadium

Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to build a high-speed transportation tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to a nearby Metro station. The system would run 150-mph passenger pods between the stadium and a terminus to the west.
Emerging Tech

Watch as a ‘lifeguard drone’ rescues a swimmer struggling at sea

These days, drones are finding a range of roles in a myriad of fields. Lifeguards, for example, are making use of the drone's ability to quickly deploy flotation devices while also offering an eye in the sky to survey the scene.
Emerging Tech

Wish you could fly? Here are the best drones on the market right now

To help you navigate the increasingly large and ever-changing landscape of consumer UAVs, here's a no-nonsense rundown of the best drones you can buy right now
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Experiment suggests that the best robot bosses could be jerks

Researchers have been investigating how future robot bosses can coax the most productivity out of us flesh-and-blood employees. The sad answer? Quite possibly by behaving like jerks.
Emerging Tech

VR experience shows caregivers what it’s like to live with Alzheimer’s disease

Los Angeles-based VR startup Embodied Labs has developed a virtual experience that puts users in the shoes of a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common type of dementia in the U.S.
Emerging Tech

Welcome to the uncanny valley: This robot head shows lifelike expressions

SEER is a robot head that is capable of recognizing the facial expressions of the people that it interacts with, and then mirroring their same expression back at them. Check it out.