|Adorable wind-up robot dog|
There are various "breeds" of robot dog available, from the the old mechanical, wind-up kind to sophisticated, high-tech versions that can walk, jump, bark and roll over on command.
|Sony's interactive robot dog, Aibo|
Currently on the market is WowWee Wrex, the "Frankenstein pooch" and mongrel of the robot dog pack, made from discarded mechanical and electrical parts. Wrex has three moods - happy, angry and half insane and three desires - hunger, a desire for exercise and call of nature. Apparently, by accessing his back panel, he can also be programmed to act like a cat. No wonder he has moments of insanity.
|Wrex, made byWowWee robotics|
Another couple of relatively inexpensive pups on the block are the digitally named named Megabyte and Tekno , perfect companions for the tech-head. They can walk talk bark and 'perform amazing tricks'...apparently.
|Megabyte...cuter than a kitten in a flowerpot.|
|Tekno, with his own biscuit.|
A study was also conducted on a group of 72 children, who were given both a real Australian collie and Aibo to play with. Not surprisingly, the children were more engaged with the real dog, yet the study revealed that a significant number of children interacted with the robot dog as they would a real one. Two questions were raised by the research:
First, is it possible that a new technological genre is emerging in HCI that challenges traditional ontological categories (e.g., between animate and inanimate)? Second, are pervasive interactions with a wide array of "robotic others" -- increasingly sophisticated personified computational artifacts that mimic biological forms and pull psychologically in mental, social, and moral ways -- a good thing for human beings.From Robots as dogs?
It's all a bit reminiscent of that eerie old 70s film Zero Population Growth, where humans in a futuristic world are unable to legally procreate because of massive overpopulation and are given robotic "doll children" to satisfy their nurturing needs. In the film at least...it didn't work.