Posted by: Nar Williams | February 28, 2008

Study: Old People Love Robots

Robot versus Dog

I’m always looking for a reason to give robots some love (umm.. that came out wrong, but you get the idea). So what better proof that robots should become our masters — I mean, co-inhabitants — than a recent study that finds that old people in nursing homes love robotic dogs?

Researchers at Saint Louis University in Missouri compared a traditional (read: real) dog named Sparky with AIBO, a robot dog, to see if residents of three nursing homes prefered one or the other as a companion.

Senior citizens generally can’t care for a pet, and of course, nursing homes don’t allow them. So Dr. William Banks decided to see if a robot could fulfill the need to have a pet-like bond. Reuters:

The researchers studied 38 nursing home residents who were divided into three groups. One got regular visits from Banks’ pet Sparky, another got visits from the AIBO Entertainment Robot, a shiny robot dog formerly made by Sony Corp that used artificial intelligence to interact with its environment and express emotion. The third group got no visits from either dog.

To his surprise, the robot peformed just as well as the living dog — both dogs provided equal comfort after seven weeks of visits.

Umm… Yeah! Have you ever been to a nursing home? You could put a tail on a canteloupe and half the residents would think it was Lassie. But that doesn’t matter. This is a good step in human-robot relations: if women named Ethel who used to cut rug to The Charleston can learn to love robots, can’t the rest of us?


  1. […] April 7, 2008 by Nar Williams As blogged previously on Achieve Nerdvana, we’ve seen that old folks love their AIBOs and DARPA loves their Big Dogs. With the introduction this July of HPI’s G-Dog, it looks […]

  2. […] care of the elderly and cleaning can be handed over to our automated pals. As reported here before, old people do love robots. The foundation says that Japan can save up to 2.1 trillion yen ($21 billion) of elderly insurance […]

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