They vary widely in design and capabilities and the following 7 robotic pets might just be the cutest ones yet. Needless to say, the following list is far from exhaustive and is in no particular order.
Will robots replace pets?
Robot pets have come a long way since they first started to appear on the market a few decades ago. Modern-day versions are smarter than ever and many use AI-technology to 'learn' from their interactions.
But will robots ever replace real animal pets? As they become ever more realistic in appearance and character it's a distinct possibility in the future.
"[Humans] have evolved to be attuned to other life forms - and not only other human life forms," says Gail Melson, a psychologist and professor emerita at Purdue University. Gail and other psychologists have been studying how children interact with robotic pets.
They found that while children do tend to treat them like inanimate objects compared to real animals they did show signs of an emotional attachment.
For example, they felt bad if they ever 'hurt' the robot or were asked if they wanted to throw them away.
But for many, there will never be an artificial robotic substitute for a real-life pet like a cat or a dog. It is likely robotic pets will simply compliment real animals rather than completely replace them.
It is likely, however, that less interactive pets like fish could readily be replaced with robotic versions wholesale in the future. After all, you'd get all the benefits of watching fish swimming around a tank without the worry of having to feed them or clean the tank.
But, only time will tell for the future of robotic pets.
1. Leonardo is Disturbingly Realistic
The robot has been developed by Personal Robots Group in collaboration with Stan Winston Studios.
This cute animal robot has been designed to interact with people and build an emotional connection with its owners. Leonardo is one of the most expensive home robots around and actually uses a form of social intelligence to communicate and learn just like people.
The robot is very expressive and can communicate using a variety of facial movements and its arms to almost make you believe it is real.
2. AIBO is Back!
AIBO, Artificial Intelligence Bot to give it its full name, is one of the most sophisticated domestic robots around. This highly interactive and cute animal robot will have you falling in love with it in no time.
It is highly compact with a four-legged motion that sees color, feels objects and hears in stereo. The latest version of this long-running series of pet robots has come a long way since the first AIBO was released in 1998.
After a brief hiatus between 2014 and 2017, Sony announced their latest generation would be released in November of 2017. The fourth generation model, ERS-1000, was launched in Japan on 11 January 2018 and has been exported around the world.
3. Do you Remember the Furby?
Furbies were all the rage just over a decade ago, but they haven't gone away. If you have never seen one, they are electronic robots that ostensibly resemble a furry owl.
Furbies are able to communicate in over 24 different languages and can also interact with their owners. The original Furby was first released back in 1998 and was a best seller for several years.
In its first three years of production, an estimated 40 million Furbies were sold around the world. It is not very surprising that Furbies were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot.
Each newly purchased Furby starts out speaking entirely "Furbish", the unique language that all Furbies use but is programmed to start using English (or another language) words and phrases in place of Furbish over time
4. Yume Neko is Like a Cat but Less Angsty
Yume Neko is the perfect domestic robot pet for cat lovers who don't like being scratched, bitten or have a fur allergy. The ultimate lap cat and looks and feels just like the real thing.
Whilst it can interact, albeit it in a limited capacity, you will definitely find yourself falling in love with this diminutive cuddly-bot. This robot cat is able to purr, meow and can even sense when you are nearby.
This pet makes sounds in response to your behavior and adores it when you use the included comb to stroke its fur. The Yume Neko Dream Cat Premium opens and closes its mouth, blinks its eyes, and moves its ears.
Who needs a real cat?
5. Reeti is Very Cute Indeed
Reeti is a fully animated robot that has been developed by Robopec in France. This little robot pet is able to mimic some human facial expression and can even react to human emotions.
According to the developer Reeti "can express an infinity of emotions thanks to a flexible skin and 15 degrees of freedom distributed on his neck, mouth, independent eyes, and ears."
This 40 cm tall robot even comes in two variants: -
- DEV Version: Delivered with all its development APIs
- PRO Version: Ready to use and to animate your exhibition stand
Reeti might not be the best-looking robot out there, but he certainly has a unique charm that will melt your heart in no time.
6. Qooba is a Furry Pillow with a Tail
Qooba, pronounced koo-bah, is a huggable robotic pillow with a swishing tail. This little robot has been designed form the tail up to provide a calming, therapeutic companion for its owners.
This little robot pet doesn't have a face or whiskers, lacks legs and won't audibly communicate with you whatsoever. It will, however, move its tail in response to various stimuli like being stroked slowly or tapped.
“Some say this reflects the Japanese cultural ability to appreciate negative space in art,” says Qooba's designer Tsubasa Tominaga of Tokyo-based Yukai Engineering.
Qooba can run for eight hours on a single charge and is available to buy in Japan and the United States.
7. PARO is a Cute Seal Robot
PARO, an advanced interactive robot from AIST, might be the cutest robot we've ever seen. Designed to look like a seal pup, this little robot is an advanced interactive robot.
The idea behind the robot pet is to provide a stress-relieving aid as a form of animal therapy.
According to their website, PARO has been shown to dramatically reduce stress in patients and has even been certified by the Guinness World Records.
"PARO is the 8th generation of a design that has been in use in Japan and throughout Europe since 2003.
PARO has five kinds of sensors: tactile, light, audition, temperature, and posture sensors, with which it can perceive people and its environment".
PARO even learns how best to interact with patients and will learn to respond to a new name.
"By interaction with people, PARO responds as if it is alive, moving its head and legs, making sounds, and showing your preferred behavior. PARO also imitates the voice of a real baby harp seal."