Questions To be answered:

Is there a dog-like robot?

Can this robot respond when you call its name?

Does this robot interact and play as a real dog does?

Is having a robot-pet is similar to having a real dog pet?

Human-Dog Relation

A dog is man's best friend. An emotional bond exists between a dog and its owner. It gradually develops day-by-day until there is a certain language between the two, where both of them understand each other without really saying a word. With the robot industry creating a wide range of pet-like robots. Dogs have a share in the electronics market with their robotic clones. The Japanese word for Companion is “AIBO” and is used to call the artificial intelligence robot developed by Sony. The robot dog-like pet can walk, see, recognize sounds and even grows older. With these dog-like features of the artificial companion it is fundamental to investigate the relationship of users and AIBO compared to the relationship with dogs and puppies. Since this falls into the context of LIREC work[1], EOTETO researchers inspected children’s and adults’ attitude and behavior when playing with AIBO and a live puppy as to investigate more in the depths of relationship with robot animal-like pets.

It was found in previous studies that children refer to AIBO as a living dog[2]. Elderly people considered AIBO as a family member just like any other animal pet they could have[3]. This study focused on the details and patterns of interaction with the robot revealing interesting findings.

Play Time

Participants in the study played with either AIBO or the live puppy for a short period. The play involved using a small pink ball with AIBO so that it would get attracted to it, the puppy played with a ball and a tug. The participants played, petted and verbally communicated with the puppy/AIBO. The whole action was video taped for further analysis.

The Puppy/AIBO Experience Is the Same

Not true, it isn’t exactly the same. The research revealed that participants didn’t differentiate between communicating with AIBO or the puppy in terms of duration and frequency of stroking and looking at AIBO/puppy. However, they seemed to be less interacting with AIBO, because they talked 3.5 times more to the live puppy. Meaning that they got bored and lost interest after a while of interacting with the artificial companion. When asked, most of the participants expressed that they preferred to play with the live puppy instead of the robot puppy. The complex temporal interaction patterns of participants with AIBO strengthened the interpretation that it is not the same interaction experience.

Future of Pet Robots

It is unfair to think of AIBO or any other pet-like robot as a real pet. Although people interact the same way with the live pet and the electronic pet, still their interpretation is different to what they are interacting with. In order to have a space for pet-like robots in the future living with us as companions it should be stressed that electronic pet-like robots are different from live pets. This way the interaction won’t be biased and expectations won’t be disappointed when the real experience takes place.

Article Answers:

Is there a dog-like robot? Yes, AIBO is our example.

Can this robot respond when you call its name? AIBO recognizes sounds, which enables it form responding when calling his own name.

Does this robot interact and play as a real dog does? Yes it does with a limited capacity of interacting compared to real dogs.

Is having a robot-pet is similar to having a real dog pet? Interpretation of the robot pet is different to having live pet. Therefore the answer is subjective. For people that couldn’t have a pet, having AIBO fulfills their need to have a pet.

Next

In the coming article we will talk about the robot that plays chess with people, till then stay tuned.

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References:

[1] D.10.1: 2.3 Dog-human and AIBO-human interactions (EOTETO) [2] Bartlett et al. (2004) [3] Beck et al. (2004)