Is it possible for “aibo,” the robotic dog, to live in symbiosis with a real canine?
Sony announced in July the results of an experiment, conducted under the supervision of zoologist Tadaaki Imaizumi, where canine behavior was analyzed.
According to the results, the dogs showed signs of consideration towards aibo, and in many cases they recognized aibo as a “living creature.”
The experiment was conducted in two steps. First, the researchers observed how 13 dogs of different ages and breeds reacted when coming into initial contact with aibo.
Nine out of the 13 approached aibo and took a sniff. Of the nine, six went so far as to sniff aibo’s rear end for confirmation. The four other dogs appeared more cautious and stayed away.
The next study involved three dogs that sniffed aibo on first contact. Those dogs spent three weeks living with the robot. A toy poodle (male, six months old) was able to understand aibo’s name, and on the eighth day of the experiment, he rolled over and showed his stomach to aibo.
According to Professor Imaizumi, the behavior “indicated that they were comrades and that his guard was down.”
A three-year-old male Jack Russell Terrier got close to aibo from the beginning. On the ninth day, he “sat” and “laid down” just as aibo did.
Professor Imaizumi explained, “His behavior copying aibo’s actions means that he completely accepted it as his buddy.”
On the 13th day, the terrier even showed compassion towards the robot when it fell face up. He gestured to help it get back up by pressing against aibo’s body with his nose.
In another situation, several dogs — including a five-year-old female shiba and two three-year-old males: a samoyed and a miniature dachshund — lived together with aibo.
The female shiba showed signs of possessiveness when she tried to fan off the other two dogs as they approached aibo. Explaining this behavior, Professor Imaizumi said, “This demonstrates the shiba assigning aibo’s ranking position as below her.”
In all cases, the dogs appeared to be sad when aibo was taken away from them on the last day of the experiment. Imaizumi explained: “For dogs, having a group member that ranks below them relieves anxieties. There should be great potential for reducing stress in dogs if they can co-exist with an aibo.”
Click here to read the original article in Japanese.