We own a robot...his name is Robbie.
Ever since I saw them advertised several years ago, I've wanted a Roomba, a flat, circular robot vacuum. I was not convinced, though, that it would work well, or that it was worth the cost. But this summer, when it came time for me to spend my birthday money, I did a web search and found a video of the Roomba in action. I was sold.
Robbie arrived via Amazon.com in August, and he's been happily vacuuming the house ever since...okay, that's not entirely true. Robbie #1, well, died. He had a "cliff sensor malfunction", which caused me great sadness. This was my first clue that I was getting entirely too attached to him. It made me sad to watch him try to vacuum the living room, only to sense a cliff (ie. stairway) that didn't exist, and go into convulsions. He would manically try to back away from the imaginary hazard, eventually pinning himself up against a wall and stalling out. We tried to fix him, we cleaned his sensors and called customer service. But he couldn't be saved. We put him out of his misery in September, and (minus postage) received Robbie #2 at no cost.
By the time he died, E was already calling Robbie #1 by his name, so we didn't want to confuse her by naming #2 something different. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Nevermind that I was not ready to talk about where robots go when their cliff sensors fail. Although she saw #2 come out of the box, she didn't make the connection that it was a different Robbie, so we just went with it.
If you do a web search on Roomba videos, you will find crazy people who dress them up, use them to torment pets, and even give them life stories. I'm not kidding, these people are nuts. So when we treat Robbie like he's alive, I only feel strange until I remember the video on YouTube about the Roomba who meets a mop and falls in love. I think it's cute that E says "Hi, Robbie" when she walks by, and sometimes she even pats him like he's just another cat. Once in a while she hits the "CLEAN" button, and then panics when he beeps and comes to life. I do feel a little bad when he chases her out of the living room...but we are trying to raise a daughter who is tolerant of humans and robots alike. It is the 21st century, after all.