The Sony Corporation has been investigating. Researchers at its Computer Science Laboratory in Paris, which “… engages in fundamental research in cutting edge areas of science that are relevant for pushing the state of the art in computing.” tested the ground by exposing real dogs to AIBO – their now-famous computer-controlled semi-autonomous dog-bot.
Results were mixed, depending on a number of factors, including the age of the real dog and the social situation in which the interactions occurred. There were, however, very strong responses from dogs in scenarios in which they felt that the AIBO might be about to indulge in some cyber food-pilfering.
Sony’s video (.mov format) shows one such interaction.
The resulting research paper can be read in full online, see: Social behaviour of dogs encountering AIBO, an animal-like robot in a neutral and in a feeding situation . It was published in the journal Behavioural Processes 65 (2004) 231–239
1: Sony explains that “The horrible screams that you hear at the end of the movie were made by the experimenters, who were startled to see the dog attack the AIBO.”
2: A manufacturer’s proviso for AIBO owners – “…we strongly advise you not to try anything similar with your AIBO. AIBO is strongly built, but it contains many delicate components that could be easily damaged. Your warranty will not cover you if AIBO is damaged in this way.”
3: The AIBO has since been discontinued.