September 14, 2013 - In the centuries-old best friendship between dogkind and humankind, humans are apparently easily replaced with robots. Seemingly loyal canines are totally willing to interact with cold, hard machines, according to a new study in Animal Cognition, gazing lovingly at their robot faces and finding hidden foodstuffs that the robot pointed to. Robots, stop taking things away from us!
The study investigated whether or not dogs
would be willing to interact with an unfamiliar robot. It found that the dogs would interact with a cyborg--if the robot seemed like a social being, as evidence by its ability to talk to the dog and its owner.
The PeopleBot telepresence robot used in the study looks a lot like "piece of gym equipment with a white gloved hand attached to it," as the study's press release notes. It would be hard for a dog to actually mistake it for a human being.
For the "social" condition, the robot, which has a movable arm and a touchscreen for a face, was programmed with pre-recorded words and sentences spoken by a human voice.
Designers of social robots, take note. Bring your dog to the lab next time you test a prototype, and watch how your pet interacts with it. You might just learn a thing or two that could help you fine-tune future designs. So says Gabriella Lakatos of the Hungarian Academy of Science and E tv s Lor nd University, lead author of a study published in...