Itâ€™s official: the robotics industry is going to the dogs. Or at least, it should if engineers want to know how to design machines that can interact with humans.
In a recent issue of the journal Animal Cognition, Gabriella Lakatos of the Hungarian Academy of Science and EÃ¶tvÃ¶s LorÃ¡nd University led a study that looked at what dogs do around robots. She and her team thought that dogs might react better â€” that is, more socially â€” to robots that give social â€œcues.â€ It may sound odd to study how a robot interacts with dogs. But the researchers note such experiments might provide insight into the underlying mechanisms of how both dogs and people see machines.
The experiment involved a robot that looks a bit like a parking meter with arms and white-gloved hands. The scientists tested 41 dogs, divided into two groups.
One group of dogs would watch as their owner interacted with another person, and then an â€˜asocialâ€™ interaction between the owner and the robot. The second group of dogs would see the owner-robot interaction first.
To test how the dogs were seeing the humans and robots, the experimenters put a piece of food into a flowerpot, allowing the dog to see where it went. They then had both humans and robots point to the food.