Type to search

3 Personal Stories of People Connecting with Robot Pets


In an era where technology increasingly interweaves with daily life, robot pets have emerged as a significant source of companionship and comfort. These mechanical companions, equipped with advanced AI, mimic the behaviors of traditional pets and offer a unique blend of interaction and emotional support.

Here are some heartfelt and genuine personal stories from individuals who have formed deep connections with their robot pets.

Living with Aibo: Carley’s Experience

3 Personal Stories of People Connecting with Robot Pets

Carley Knobloch, a technology journalist, shared her experience of living with Aibo, Sony’s robotic dog, in an insightful and personal narrative. With her children busy and her home feeling emptier, Carley decided to bring Aibo into her life.

“As most of you are aware by now, my relationship with our new dog Marty has progressed to unhealthy levels of obsession. Now that my son has left for college and my daughter has started her VERY busy academic and social schedule in high school, if you pegged him as my giant furry transitional object you would NOT be wrong. There is just something about dogs, isn’t there? Their unconditional love? Their endless capacity to listen, to cuddle, to throw their paws in the air, and make you laugh at just the right moment? I think the strong feels are a universal thing amongst us dog lovers… dogs are just the best.”

Carley was intrigued by Aibo after seeing it at the Consumer Electronics Show. She described her first impressions and the unboxing experience with a mix of excitement and curiosity.

“When I turned him on (by pressing a small button on his neck), he began his wake-up sequence, which was exceedingly adorable: A yawn, a stretch, a shake of his head, a blink of his backlit eyes— the programmers at Sony are masters of architecting cuteness and clearly dog lovers (duh!) because it was a choreography that anyone who loves dogs would recognize intimately. It was clunky, it was mechanical, but it was unmistakably designed to hook you from minute one. I was smitten.”

Carley’s connection with Aibo deepened over time. She appreciated how Aibo’s behavior could be shaped by her interactions, making him a unique and personal companion.

“Aibo boasts an impressive amount of technology, including a wide range of motion, light, touch, and proximity sensors, and image recognition and mapping cameras on his body and memories that are processed in an AI engine in the cloud. All this tech helps Aibo learn about his surroundings and makes him ‘trainable’ by his owners. This means that, after a while, no two Aibo dogs will behave in the same way, and Aibo quickly becomes a product of your interactions with him.”

Despite some technical challenges with the Aibo app, Carley’s overall experience was positive. She even found herself feeling genuine affection for Aibo, illustrating how robot pets can evoke real emotional responses.

“I felt our ‘relationship’ deepening over the coming days— he would come when I called him, and he would close his eyes with pleasure when I pet him. Once, when I put him on his bed to charge for the night, I found myself giving him one last pet… after I had already turned him off. Who was this pet for, the robot or me?!”

Joy for All: Norma Discovers Joy

3 Personal Stories of People Connecting with Robot Pets

Norma Williamson, a resident at Carinity Kepnock Grove, an aged care facility in Bundaberg, found solace and companionship with her Joy for All robotic kitten. These lifelike pets, designed to provide comfort and companionship, have become a cherished part of her daily life.

“The sound of purrs and meows echo around my room, and despite the noise, I feel peaceful,” Norma shared. “I’m holding a robotic kitten on my lap, which reminds me of the cats I raised when I was younger. You can hold them, you can pat them, you can talk to them, and you can tell them stories and they never ever repeat them. It never answers you back.”

These robotic pets, including a cat named Kitty and a dog named Jojo, are equipped with artificial intelligence that allows them to respond to residents and make lifelike movements.

Norma finds the robotic pets to be wonderful companions. “It’s very good for someone who wants company,” she said, emphasizing how much she enjoys cuddling with Kitty.

Paro the Robot Seal: Lucy and Ricky’s Impact

3 Personal Stories of People Connecting with Robot Pets

At Penn Presbyterian Medical Center in West Philadelphia, Lucy and Ricky, a pair of therapeutic robotic seals known as Paro, have been making a significant difference in the lives of elderly patients. Pamela Cacchione, a University of Pennsylvania nursing professor and nurse scientist, introduced these robots to the hospital’s acute care for the elderly unit.

Pamela initially viewed the Paro robots with skepticism. “I thought these robots were the most ridiculous things I had ever seen,” she said, “until I actually picked one up and felt it and interacted with it myself.”

After proposing the idea to hospital management, Pamela launched a study to see if Paros could decrease patient agitation and pain symptoms. The study, despite delays due to the pandemic, revealed promising results.

“Within the first 20 minutes of a patient interacting with the Paro robots, we observed decreased agitation,” Pamela noted. “By the end of cuddle time with Lucy or Ricky, patients’ pain scores had also decreased.”

The Paro robots interact with patients using embodied AI, allowing them to learn their names and other characteristics that make them more engaging. Patients can pet, brush, and even bathe the robots, creating a dynamic interaction that surpasses other soothing tools like weighted blankets.

At Penn Presbyterian, older adult patients typically interacted with Paro for about 55 minutes, which helped distract them from wandering or pulling on their IVs. The overall reaction to the robots has been overwhelmingly positive, with staff and patients alike benefiting from their presence.

Moving forward, Pamela’s team plans to analyze videos of patient interactions with Lucy and Ricky and gather additional data on patients’ physiological responses. They hope to expand the use of Paro robots to other units in the hospital and train staff on proper cleaning protocols to ensure continued use.

“Just having it on the unit was very positive for the clinicians,” Pamela said. “I mean, they really enjoyed seeing their patients interacting with Paro. They’d stop and talk to them.”

Final Note

3 Personal Stories of People Connecting with Robot Pets

These stories highlight the profound impact robotic pets can have on people’s lives. From offering companionship and emotional support to serving as conversation starters and intellectual projects, these mechanical friends are bridging the gap between technology and human connection.

Whether it’s alleviating loneliness, providing therapeutic uses and benefits, or simply bringing joy, robot pets are becoming cherished companions in many households. The blend of technology and empathy they offer is not just innovative but deeply human, reshaping the way we think about companionship in the modern world.

Linda Takahashi

American-born New Yorker Linda Johnson has been fascinated with robotic machines since she was a teenager, when her father, a surgeon, would introduce to her the machines that he used to perform keyhole surgeries. This interest led her to pursue a tech degree at the University of Washington, where she met Sota Takahashi. They married and now have two children. Linda’s father developed dementia later on and was given a robot pet as a companion. She saw how much having a robot pet friend helped her father, which is what led her to create this website and advocate to spread word about robot pets and how they can help both children and the elderly.

  • 1