Help identify this robot dog, win a prize!

Professor Daniel Dennett found this peculiar robot dog in a shop in France. He quickly swiped it up and named it tati, in honor of Jaques Tati a director who incorporated this same whimsical style into a film called Mon Oncle. Daniel really wants to know something about this dog. Who made it? Why? What features did it have? He’s even offering a reward on his site. I’ll include a link at the very end of this article, but at the time I was looking it took forever to load.  Since it looks like it might be under heavy load, I’ve tossed the entire gallery of pictures after the break.  Do you know what this little guy’s story is?

update: seems to have gotten a tiny bit more information back in 2008 on the dog.

One correspondent has told me that Tati (my name for it, of course, not the name its creator chose, certainly) was commissioned by Prince Louis de Broglie, the Belgian physicist and Nobel laureate, for his granddaughter in Paris. She fell on hard times and sold it to an antique dealer. Could be, but my efforts to confirm the story have not yet born fruit.
Best wishes,
Daniel Dennett


Originally found via Reddit
here’s Daniel’s home page. Be easy on it, it was very slow to respond. Especially the bit about the dog.


    • Ghost August 16, 2011 10:16 pm 

      Was thinking the same thing at first

  1. Jason C August 16, 2011 9:27 pm 

    Looks like Goddard from Jimmy Neutron

  2. AJ August 16, 2011 10:30 pm 

    I would agree with the K-9 Assumptions however, K-9 has one eye band that seems to be lit with several lights or led’s in the 2006 model. While the wheel’s do look familiar, K-9 appeared first in the 1977 episode Invisible Enemy. Also, K-9 did not have a jaw, but did have an extendible antenna on his eyes. If someone could ID the battery in it would be a start.

    Amazing construction, so much packed into such a small form, this was truly an amazing piece of machinery. Today all of that could fit in a furbyish sized device and work almost as well. Please let us know if someone figures it out.

  3. Jerzee August 17, 2011 12:13 am 

    Does this actually works still? If so could you provide some video w/ sound of it preforming several actions. This dog “Tati” is an absolute marvelous creation.

  4. IceRapture August 17, 2011 12:15 am 

    What are the 2 silver cylinders at the rear? (picture 4, top right, or the main picture…)

  5. lc August 17, 2011 6:20 am 


    My thoughts exactly.
    Power it up and see what it does!

  6. ludovic August 17, 2011 6:28 am 


    very nice object.

    The brand of the battery is “Wonder”. It is a old french firm. This firm was sell to american firm Ralston (Energizer) in 1988. Since wonder disapear of the french market.
    I think it is a battery type R6 (or AA). What information would you like about this battery ?

  7. Torby August 17, 2011 8:08 am 

    I first thought of K9 too, but only as a joke. No need to analyze the history or design differences.

    This thing is amazing. As to what to do with it, make sure those batteries don’t leak or something, and put it in a display case.

    Oh, yes! Power it up and see what it does. Check closely for old electrolytic capacitors that may have dried out first.

  8. Torby August 17, 2011 8:11 am 

    Perhaps as mysterious as the Antikythera mechanism?

  9. Lovro August 17, 2011 10:17 am 

    This is robotic dog for puppet show, see image 15, and you will see switches for controlling it!

  10. Rob August 17, 2011 11:25 am 

    A couple questions:
    1) are there any manufacture markings, maybe on any of the components? This may give an idea of it’s origins
    2) have you cataloged the components? I see a motor and some lamps =)

    Looks like a prototype, maybe from some japanese toy manufacture.

  11. Tewas August 17, 2011 12:32 pm 

    Hey guys from the pictures it looks russian design, or atleast made from russian parts. And it could be made in a country of soviet union.

  12. Praetor August 17, 2011 1:54 pm 

    Can anyone check the worlds fair archives? All wonderous (if not wonderful) technologies from around the world were displayed at these things, weren’t they? How about before powering this thing up look into the mechanics, see how they function by manually manipulting them to certain limiting points (without forcing anything, as to break it) the cylinders on the rear look like early speakers/horns. How about makeing this find into a documentry (PBS, BBC, History Channel Science channel, NOVA…) to broaden the search for answers, no?

  13. Nico August 18, 2011 1:58 am 

    The hind wheels motor is from S.E.V company (Soci’et’e pour L’Equipment ‘Electrique des V’ehicules) that manufactured pre-war car components. It is a wiper motor, one of the few that could operate in manual or automatic mode at that time.

  14. Bugs_Nixon August 18, 2011 2:45 am 

    I think he’s searching for his former master… I’ve never seen such devotion in a droid before. He claims to be the property of an ‘Obi- Wan Kenobi’.

  15. Vg August 18, 2011 12:59 pm 

    whats its max bite pressure? i doubt a puppet would need to be that strong

  16. Cachorrin August 19, 2011 9:18 am 

    All I know is that it seems the dog jimmie neutron: goddard

  17. deff August 19, 2011 10:12 am 

    I guess there is one place you might get answers, it’s a shop/museum in Lyon, they deal with mecanism and produce maquette for a long time, the guy might now more especially if it’s french.
    other place you might find answers
    it s the old part of the town.

  18. BOOTHBY171 August 19, 2011 4:09 pm 

    I was going to say it was “Rags” from the Woody Allen movie “Sleeper” (Robot dogs make wonderful pets, but they have a tendency to leave little batteries around all over the place). Unfortunately, I think that Rags was quadrupedal.

    I definitely agree–fire the thing up and see what it does. Of course, the beauty of it may be that it doesn’t *do* anything!!

  19. BOOTHBY171 August 19, 2011 4:13 pm 

    Though, if you look closely at IMAGE007, I think you can see a bead consenser, model # AB-619.

    And there is definitely a Cathermin tube with inindium complex of +4 in IMAGE015.

    Interestinger and interestinger….

    • TFC September 1, 2011 6:22 pm 

      “Cathermin tube with inindium complex of +4” from the movie “This Island Earth” 1955. Ha Ha ;-(

  20. Elephantschild August 19, 2011 11:04 pm 

    Daniel Dennett = David Tennant?

  21. Onaka August 20, 2011 2:15 am 

    This thing NEEDS to be fixed!

    If it is indeed mechanized, rather than just made to look cool, it must bark (or whatever its original function was) once more!

  22. Jon August 25, 2011 10:56 am 

    That’s no dog, it’s a dragon. Note the “smoke” generating nostrils.

  23. SFwriter September 25, 2011 12:50 am 

    Batteries or not, it’s not going to function until you re-tune the interociter and undamp the intensifier disk. And please be very careful when you disengage the “Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator” or we’ll be up to our armpits in Martians.

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