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Sorry about the goofy title! Yes, we know PawBot is not cheap compared to other wet food dispensers on the market.  

The problem is all the previous dispensers can't open and empty out contents of pet food cans. In fact, inventors have been trying to solve the problem of dispensing canned food to a pet since 1970s,  https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/pages/US4077360-1.png, without much success as the task of dealing with multiple cans, identifying their size/ geometry, opening the can, removing the lid and dispensing the food into a fresh bowl every time with no human presence has been not possible till now. Robots had to be invented before such a robot helper could do this task. 

In the 5 years it took to develop PawBot, we developed about 8 different versions of PawBot and keeping the cost low was a high priority as was creating a reliable machine which can dispense wet food for years and years to come. In the end, we were left 2 variations of the 8th version of PawBot. One was about $300 cheaper than the other. In our stress tests, the $300 cheaper version broke down after about 3 years of (accelerated / simulated) use where we tie extra load on our robot and let it run dispensing food in a loop day and night for a few months straight. We felt that reducing the cost by $300 was not worth using the cheaper parts and we wanted to deliver the best robot we could make that could perform for 10+ years with no problems.

We also feel that PawBot should be compared to other robots on the market. PawBot is perhaps the cheapest of all functional robots on the market. By functional robots we mean robots which are capable of identifying physical objects and moving them and manipulating them. PawBot identifies food can, it can see where the cans are located, compute quantity of cans, their sizes, and picks them up, guides their cutting, removes the lid, empties contents into a bowl, and puts the empty food can in a trash receptacle. PawBot also removes used bowls by your pet and pickups a fresh bowl and puts it on dispense rail before every dispense. 

 Let's compare some of the other robots on the market which we think can possibly perform PawBot's tasks if they are programmed to do so. Note that NONE of the robots listed below come with a safety enclosure or programming to open food cans to serve your pet. So if you did purchase one of these robots, and you are able to program it to open up a food can, your cat might jump on the robot in the middle of the operation and smack the can out of robots gripper. We are not sure how confused the robot will get at that point.     All prices quoted below are in USD. Prices mentioned are according to our research when this article was published and actual prices may vary as manufacturers can change pricing anytime.

  1. PR2 robot, $450,000 $280,000 (discounted), which can possibly not only do what PawBot does, but it can also fold your laundry and do the dishes. http://www.willowgarage.com/pages/pr2/order  
  2. Motoman SDA10,  $110,000, can be programmed to cook, clean, or anything else you like. It is not mobile, and a bit heavy to lug around the house. Stick it in your kitchen, give it all the ingredients and it will cook you an omelette! .
  3. Romeo the robot,  $327,500, is a social and functional robot. It has been in development since 2009 and is available to people with disabilities. . Info Links: cNET.
  4. ASIMO, $2,500,000, is Honda's flagship robot and is as close to a human like robot which can walk, run, navigate crowds, and perhaps you can program it to fight your cat and feed it before your cat decides to claw off the food can from Asimo. 
  5. HRP-4, $300,000, is another robot with realistic functional fingers which could be programmed to identify, pickup a pet food can and serve your pet. HRP-4 is made in Japan and can be yours for approx 
  6. HUBO 2 Plus, $400,000, weighs about 100 lbs, and has finely tuned fingers which can be programmed to do all sorts of tasks around your home. 
  7. NAO Evolution, $7,500, has two hands and is mobile. Each of the hand, individually is too small to hold a can. However, it might be possible to program NAO with both hands collectively to hold a can. Still we are doubtful that NAO can manage to get the can's lid cut and turn it upside down to shake the food out into a bowl. Without a safety cover, an aggressive pet could easily knock the can away from this robot, and the operation will fail. We doubt NAO has capabilities to figure out how to clean up the mess from such an event. You could be coming back home to a disaster and a hungry pet!
  8. Pepper the Robot, $1700 PLUS $1604/ per year fees. We don't like the annual fees, since the total bill will reach about $9,720 in 5 years. And we are kidding about Pepper's capabilities. According to Pepper's manufacturer, Pepper is a social robot only and can't perform any physical tasks. On the other hand there is a future free software upgrade for PawBot which will add more social capabilities to PawBot.
  9. Boris, the robot that can load a dishwasher has giant blue arms, grasping, humanoid hands, took five years to develop at a cost of $645,000 and was unveiled recently.
  10. PawBot, less than $5000, and there is no annual fees to keep your robot. Safety enclosure protects the robot and your pet from each other. PawBot comes all programmed and ready to be your helper immediately. No need to be a professional programmer or robotics enthusiast/  engineer to program the robot like some of the above noted robots. We wanted our grandma to be able to use PawBot. It's really that easy to use!  

 

So, why is PawBot so cheap, and is easy to use compared to the other robots which one day will become a common place in our homes?  This is because from day one, we focused on using high precision, heavy duty motors that are sufficient to perform the task of lifting and opening pet food cans and serving your pet. We have tested PawBot over many thousands of cycles and have decided to use heavy duty (expensive) precision motors which will perform with high reliability for many, many years to come. We could have made the blunder of choosing cheaper motors which would reduce the cost, but also reduced the life of PawBot. We could have also selected even higher grade industrial motors which would have increased PawBot's size, complexity and price without any additional perceived benefit.  Some of the other robot manufacturers are producing very generic use robots that can be programmed by robotics enthusiasts or engineers to perform a variety of tasks. We decided to start small and focus on creating PawBot which is reliable, ready to use out of the box, and is way cheaper than these other very complex robots. We believe in making life simple and PawBot easy to use setup is reflective of that thought. We hope you will bring the first ever real functional robot to your home and make your life simple and .. amaze your family and friends! See Why did we create PawBot