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Dogs pick up robots’ social cues

Machines seem more like people after human interaction

1:45pm, October 14, 2013

ROBOT MASTER  The PeopleBot may not look much like a human, but some dogs would follow its directions if they had seen the robot interacting with humans beforehand.

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The Jetsons’ robotic maid, Rosie, could give machines a lesson in social skills. Dogs were more likely to pay attention to a PeopleBot robot — a machine with a laptop head and Mickey Mouse–style hands — after watching it walk, talk and shake hands with humans. When this “social” robot pointed to a hidden frankfurter, some dogs got the hint and found the treat, researchers report September 12 in Animal Cognition. The dogs had trouble picking up cues from a PeopleBot that avoided humans and beep-beeped like a machine. Still, the social bots aren’t quite dog whisperers yet. Dogs followed directions from humans best.


G. Lakatos et al. Sensing sociality in dogs: what may make an interactive robot social? Animal Cognition. Published online September 12, 2013. doi:10.1007/s10071-013-0670-7.

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