Move Over, Rover: Robotic Pet Can Be Best Friend

Move Over, Rover: Robotic Pet Can Be Best Frie

In his excellent 1968 novel Do

He ascended ... to the covered pasture whereon his electric sheep "grazed." Whereon it, sophisticated piece of hardware that it was, chomped away in simulated contentment, bamboozling the other tenants of the building. (Read more about Philip K. Dick's electric sheep)

In a recent study at the University of Missouri, levels of cortisol dropped among adults who petted AIBO, Sony's dog-shaped robot. Cortisol is a hormone that indicates stress. AIBO has some convincing dog-like behaviors; it responds when stroked, chases a ball and perks up when it hears a familiar voice.

Dr. Takanori Shibata, the creator of Paro, has found that interaction with cute, cuddly robots lowered stress, elevated moods and decreased depression. Paro also encouraged communication and social behavior among subjects. Shibata found that brain activity increased 50 percent in patients with dementia after just twenty minutes with Paro.

(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from

Bill Christensen catalogues the inventions, technology and ideas of science fiction writers at his website, Technovelgy. He is a contributor to Live Science.