Autonomous robot keeps cats entertained while you're away

Ebo is a robot companion for cats

Ebo is a robot companion for cats

Coming home to see your cat still lying in the same spot it was when you left that morning, it’s easy to assume they’re pretty happy with nothing to do. But as curious and social creatures they do get bored, and could always use some exercise to boot. Enter Ebo, a new cat companion robot now on Kickstarter.

Ebo is a small, round robot that can autonomously roll around the house, keeping your cat busy when you’re away. Its erratic movements are designed to mimic those of an animal, and it makes noises and sports an LED screen that lights up like a pair of eyes. Altogether, that should make it unpredictable and exciting for kitty.

Ebo also packs some more traditional cat toys, too. The swappable head piece has feathers or string for puss to play with, and there’s a built-in laser pointer, which no cat can ever resist chasing.

The outer casing is designed to be fairly cat-proof, so scratching, pawing and drooling won’t damage the little robot. If it gets knocked over, Ebo can roll back onto its feet.

Ebo is designed to keep cats company when no one is home, giving them exercise and mental stimulation
Ebo is designed to keep cats company when no one is home, giving them exercise and mental stimulation

The robot can apparently scan a room to detect obstacles, and if it does hit something, its collision sensors will tell it to change direction. With all this, Ebo is designed to run around on its own to play with your cat when no one’s home, and these play sessions can be scheduled in advance.

When it’s running low on juice, Ebo will automatically return to its charging dock. The battery can last about two hours on autonomous mode, and apparently it takes about that long to fully charge up again.

If you want to check in on the cat while you’re out, Ebo has a built-in camera and microphone, which you can take control of through a smartphone app. You can not only see, hear and speak to your pet, but take direct control of steering the bot and firing off the laser pointer to play with it.

Since cats are an endless source of internet-worthy videos, the app can also let you edit and upload photos and videos from the camera to share around on social media.

Using a smartphone app, Ebo can be steered remotely for long-distance playtime
Using a smartphone app, Ebo can be steered remotely for long-distance playtime

Along with the standard model, there’s a Pro version of Ebo that apparently uses AI to analyze your cat’s behavior and mood, to decide how and when to play with it and do better over time. There’s also the option of a collar that tracks the animal’s steps and other health metrics, to make sure Ebo is doing its job as a personal trainer.

As niche as it sounds, robot companions for pets is a pretty crowded market, and there’s no shortage of contraptions that have some overlap with Ebo. Some use lasers, some fire treats, some can be remotely controlled. Either way, Ebo looks like a neat and well-designed – if not entirely innovative – new addition to the pack.

Ebo is currently being funded on Kickstarter, where it’s already smashed its goal of HK$40,000 (about US$5,000) and raised HK$1,443,000 (US$184,000) with 32 days remaining. Early bird pledges start at US$158 for the Ebo Standard Christmas version, which includes a little Santa and reindeer suit for the robot and are due to ship in December.

Otherwise, an Ebo Standard pledge starts at the same price (or $178 with the collar) but these don’t ship until March 2020. The Ebo Pro will set you back $198 or $217 with the collar, and ship in June next year.

Check out Ebo in action in the video below.