Humans may soon have a new best friend: a semi-autonomous four-legged robot called SpotMini. The robotics company Boston Dynamics recently announced plans to sell its robo-dogs next year. The 2-foot-9-inch-tall robots can unload dishwashers, haul a 30-pound load, and open doors. They’re also being tested for patrolling unoccupied buildings at night, responding to natural disasters, and delivering packages. SpotMini, whose price hasn’t been announced, is one of many new robots modeled after pets. Sony’s newly redesigned robo-dog called Aibo, which can recognize people, recently went on sale in the U.S. for $2,899. And in 2015, Hasbro released a meowing robo-cat billed as a companion pet for the elderly. Could robo-pets soon replace living ones? Probably not, says engineer Tapomoy Bhattacharjee. “If you try to make [a robot] very similar to a dog,” he says, “and try to make it look more realistic . . . there comes a point when it becomes creepy.”