Dogs may have a hard time wrapping their paws around this one: Robotic competition is nipping at their heels in the man's-best-friend department. A study by Saint Louis University found that a lovable pooch named Sparky and a robotic dog, AIBO, were about equally effective at relieving the loneliness of nursing home residents and fostering attachments.
The study, which appears in the March issue of the Journal of The American Medical Directors Association, builds on previous findings by the researchers that frequent dog visits decreased loneliness of nursing home residents.
Andrew Ng, who leads Stanford University's team in building a home-assistance robot and was not involved in the study, said the strength of the research is very encouraging.
If humans can feel an emotional bond with robots, even fairly simple ones, some day they could "not just be our assistants, but also our companions," he said.
I'm sorry, I just don't buy this. Do you think a robot would save you from a burning building? Would a robot alert you to the possibility of having a seisure? I don't think so. When it comes to dogs versus robots, there's no competition.