In a world where we are only just completely embracing robotic vacuums and lawnmowers into everyday homes, introducing robotic pets into our homes might sound a little bit surreal but recent reports suggest that you might be playing fetch with a robotic companion sooner than you think.
Robotic Pet took news headlines in May of 2015, after well renowned researcher Dr Jean-Lou/uploads/2017/10/31lN0Ggp Rault reported that he anticipated “robotic pets to replace man’s best friend within a decade.”
Not only does Dr Jean-Loup Rault think that robotic pets will replace our furry companions within a decade, he also thinks that we will form serious emotional connections with these robotic companions.
Not As Far Fetched As You Might Think
“It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” said Dr Rault, from the University of Melbourne in Australia.
“It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think. If you’d described Facebook to someone 20 years ago, they’d think you were crazy.
But we are already seeing people form strong emotional bonds with robot dogs in Japan.”Pet Robotic has come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the mid-90s. In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die.”
Robotic animals are already being used in medical settings where they are used to harness the emotional and physiological benefits of interacting with living pets.
There are clearly some obvious advantages of robotics companions, they don’t need to be fed, they dont litter and their characteristics and behaviour can be programmed based on the owner’s likes.
Animal abuse is still serious problem across the world too, and robotic pets may be the solution to ending suffering for thousands of animals and pets in unwanted homes.
“Of course we care about live animals, but if we become used to a robotic companion that doesn’t need food, water or exercise, perhaps it will change how humans care about other living beings,” Rault remarked.
Sonys Aibo Robotic Dog: A Status of It’s Own
Although Sony have withdrawn the Aibo from any further production, the Aibo dog which was first released in 1999 and featured on The Verge’s Weirdly Sony list, has made way for some remarkable testing in the emotional space for robotic pets.
There have been a number of studies of children interacting with the Aibo and it has been observed that children treat the Aibo in the same way that they would interact with a real dog. In the US, the Paro seal has been successfully trialled and used in therapy for medical patients.
“You won’t find a lot of research on Pet Robotic out there, but if you Google robot dogs, there are countless patents,” said Rault.
“Everyone wants to get ahead of this thing because there is a market and it will take off in the next 10 to 15 years.”
With rapid technology and Artificial Intelligence advancements, it’s likely that robotic pets would be able to emulate characteristics and mannerisms of living animals and would be able to create extremely realistic experiences for humans.
“When engineers work on robotic dogs, they work on social intelligence, they address what people need from their dog’s: companionship, love, obedience, dependence,” Rault said.
Robotic Pets Edging The Real Deal
As our population increases and more technology becomes available to us, it’s natural that we automate and create robots to fulfill our needs.
Similar to robotic vacuums, lawnmowers or even older household appliances like dishwashers and air conditioners; we create things to enhance our lives and make them easier.
Pet robotic seem like a natural progression of everyday home robotics. There’s a long way to go, technology will have to improve and testing will have to be applied but we’re excited for the robotic pet industry to develop (and to review these robotic pets, of course!)
I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments, do you think that you’ll be playing fetch with a robotic companion in 10 years time?
Further read, Bitsbox Review – Can Bitsbox Teach Your Kids to Code?