Competition for our pets

By Mathias Pilwarsch

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Robots are becoming increasingly important in our lives. The use of robots has changed the world of working and is a great competition for our Jobs. There will not only be changes in the world of work, pets are also going to be exchanged more and more from robots in the next few years. The Australian scientist Dr. Jean-Loup Rault is convinced that people can develop emotions in robotic animals.

The robot pet market is crowded with new inventions and playmates, for young and old. For many older people pets are very important. Pets can help such people in many different areas, for example if they are lonely. However, pets need a lot of work and attention. Not all older people are able to take care of their pet and buy or drive to the veterinarian. They can get a robotic pet. They have no fleas and they do not need food. All these things are no longer necessary.

Robotic pets could also bring advantages for the younger generations. All pet owners know the situation when their next holiday is approaching and they just want to fly away. The recurring question is who will take care of the pet during that time. It may sound a little harsh, but in these situations some owners definitely think of a button where you can switch off your pet. With the new robotic pets this problem will disappear.

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All robotic pets have different functions, but the principle behind them is the same. The robotic dog Genibo in this picture is 30 centimetres high and weighs 3.3 pounds. The most important sensors are the microphones, which allow the pets to recognize what they should do. The Genibo dog can understand 100 different commands and use a digital camera to navigate around obstacles. The robot dog has LED lights in its eyes to express emotions such as happiness or distrust. Additionally Genibo is equipped with wheel sensors, touch sensors and tilt sensors to adapt to its environment.

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Although the technique is probably not ready yet to compare it with a real dog or a cat, already in ten years artificial pets could be become the norm. Cemeteries for robot pets as in Japan may soon also be found in our part of world.

Mathias Pilwarsch

Student at Technikum Wien University

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