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Robot Dogs To Replace Real Dogs? - We Hope Not

It’s clear that many owners absolutely adore their dogs, and feel that they are totally irreplaceable. Which makes the notion of a robot dog sound very far fetched. Dogs are loyal, loving and affectionate companions that have stood by our side for centuries. Humans and dogs clearly have a very special bond, which would be extremely difficult to replicate using robotics.

Many dog owners might find the idea of a robotic dog horrifying. However, Dr Jean-Loup Rault, an animal welfare researcher from the University of Melbourne claims that in a decade, robot dogs could replace man’s best friend. The reason he thinks this might occur is that the world is becoming so overpopulated and consequently real pets could become a luxury. He claims, ‘If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it's likely to occur sooner than we think.’

Most people would assume that you can’t have an emotional connection with a robot, but Rault believes otherwise. He predicts that people will form some kind of emotional connection with their robot pet. This might sound crazy, but there is evidence that it is possible. There are already different forms of robot pets available on the market. ‘In Japan, people are becoming so attached to their robot dogs that they hold funerals for them when the circuits die.’

Robotics is becoming extremely advanced, enabling humans to create highly intelligent and response robots to interact with humans. ‘Pet robotics has come a long way from the Tamagotchi craze of the mid-90s. When engineers work on robotic dogs, they work on social intelligence, they address what people need from their dogs: companionship, love, obedience, dependence.’ The idea of robotic pets may sound insane at the moment, but Rault thinks that for the next generation, it could end up being totally normal.

Despite the fact that many dog owners are likely to completely reject the idea, having a robotic pet can be useful for some people. For example, people who are disabled and can’t look after a real dog, people who don’t have much space and those who are allergic to dogs. However, a lot of people would argue that a robotic dog can’t match up to the benefits of owning a real dog.

There’s something very special about the connection between a human and a real dog. You can’t reflect their love, their expressions and their behaviour choices in quite the same way. It would be very sad if we lived in a world with no pet dogs. What do you think? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below.


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