Can a realistic robot dog be a better pet for certain people?
SEPTEMBER 2, 2019 By Jennifer Hackett
It barks, it plays, it does tricks, and it begs for attention. In many ways, Aibo is just like any other dog. But there’s one major difference: Aibo is an interactive robot pet created by Sony.
But how much is owning an Aibo like owning a real dog? Gail Melson, a professor of psychology at Purdue University in Indiana, studied how kids ages 9 to 15 reacted to Aibo.Play VideoPlayMuteLoaded: 13.17%Remaining Time -1:15CaptionsPicture-in-PictureFullscreenSum It Up: AiboWatch a video about the cumulative cost of owning a robotic pet.
“We found that children treated Aibo not so much as a machine but as an interactive partner,” she says. Although the kids knew they were playing with a robot, they felt a connection to the dog look-alike. They also felt a responsibility to Aibo, saying it wouldn’t be right to get rid of the machine if you got bored of it.
“A lot of people get a pet dog or cat, but what they really want is a toy,” says Jessica Pierce, an animal ethicist. “Animals are not toys.” One of the benefits of Aibo is that it is a toy. Unlike a real pet, it doesn’t make a mess or need food and water. It can even be left alone for hours or days in a row. For some busy families, getting an Aibo instead of a real dog might be the more humane choice.Pricey Pups