Thursday, January 07, 2021

Robot Pets

Here are two articles about robotic cats and dogs manufactured to serve as substitutes for live pets:

Robotic Pets Help Seniors Avoid Loneliness

Can Robot Pets Provide Comfort?

A FAQ posted by a company that makes these artificial pets:

Joy for All

The products are claimed to "feel, look and sound like real pets."

Some years ago, I remember reading news stories about robot dogs that looked like robots rather than real dogs. They were metallic instead of furry, which doesn't sound to me like a proper appearance for a surrogate pet. It would seem more like a clever toy, not a quasi-living animal. These present-day robotic pets look like animals, as shown in the still photos anyway. Or, at least, like cuddly stuffed animals—the kitty pictured on the first page linked above seems to resemble a toy more than a live cat. I didn't come across a video showing whether or not their movements appear natural rather than mechanical. They're described as interactive, but the FAQ linked above doesn't specifically state what they do. One of the articles does mention the robot dog performing some typical canine actions such as barking, panting, etc.

These devices remind me of Philip K. Dick's classic DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP? In that dystopian future, human-caused mass extinctions have made live animals extremely rare and expensive. Therefore, people buy artificial pets as substitutes, such as the electric sheep in the title. Fortunately, we're nowhere near that plight yet. Today's robot dogs and cats are meant as pet surrogates for isolated elderly persons who can't own real animals because of health, housing, or financial constraints.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

No comments:

Post a Comment