White House Holiday Decorations Feature Bo and Sunny Obama Robots

The Obamas’ affable and photogenic Portuguese Water Dogs have provided inspiration for the White House holiday decorations once again — and this year there are even robotic versions of Bo and Sunny.

White House decorators used more than 1 mile of black and white satin ribbon on animated, life-size recreations of the famous dogs as part of 2014’s theme, A Children’s Winter Wonderland.

“Sunny’s eyes move with a motion sensor,” said Michelle Obama as she unveiled her decked-out home this week. “I hope it’s working,” she added jokingly. Last year’s attempt at a robotic Bo overheated and started to smoke, reports the Associated Press.

For this year’s dog-bots, teams from the Presidential Innovation Fellows and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy created robots that sense the movements of tourists and turn in their direction. NPR White House correspondent Tamara Keith shared this Vine of the Bo bot Tuesday.

The robot versions of the first dogs sit in a snowy scene with a wooden train engine, surrounded by presents covered in wrapping paper with tiny illustrations of Bo and Sunny in a houndstooth pattern. The display is located in the East Garden Room, commonly known as Booksellers, which also includes a digital installation that visualizes visitors in a snowy landscape projected on a wall.

Miniature versions of Bo and Sunny can also be spotted playing in front of the 420-pound gingerbread White House.

The dogs themselves made a cameo Tuesday, visiting with the children of military families who were there for holiday festivities. Things went a little more smoothly than they did last year, when young Sunny accidently knocked over a 2-year-old girl.

This isn’t the first time the dogs have been highlighted for the holidays at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. There were likenesses of Bo in 2011 and 2012, and after his little sister arrived last year, Sunny was part of the decor and the family holiday card, too.

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