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As the market for robot pets continues to grow, companies and manufacturers must continue to think of ways to innovate and improve robot pet construction. At the forefront of this innovation would be the technologies and materials that we can expect to be integrated into the design and build of future robot pet models.
There’s no question that there have been significant changes in the technological evolution and improvement of robot pets today vs. vintage robot pets. However, as AI and the field of robotics continue to develop, new technologies that can be integrated into robot pets continue to emerge. While there are plenty of these, we see that the three technologies below can be most expected in the construction of robot pets soon.
While AI is not a new technology discovery, algorithms continue to evolve. AI chatbots powered by Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT and Bing Chat make use of this technology and robot manufacturers are starting to look into this as a new feature of their creations. Similar to how Google’s RT-2 is already integrating this tech, we can expect that robot pets will soon adopt advanced AI algorithms as well to enable adaptive personalities.
With this technology, robot pets can have and express a wide range of emotions depending on the real-time situation and interaction. Just like a living pet, a robot pet can soon merit an emotional response towards its owner to further build an emotional bond and connection.
About artificial intelligence algorithms, we can expect more robot pets to be connected to the internet or come with apps. This allows them to have their software upgraded as needed and obtain information in real-time. Thus, a robot pet can essentially “grow” and interact with owners in a more advanced and relevant way.
Servomotors will allow a robot pet to be more mobile than it has ever been before. It allows them to move the head, body parts, and even subtleties like eyebrows, eyes, eyelids, and mouth. If done right, a robot pet can act more lifelike and less animatronic. Pretty soon, we might be able to see a robot dog wag its tail or a robot cat lick its paw.
In a way, servomotors also allow the robot pet to be socially intelligent as the movement can merit a facial expression that is proportional to how a living pet would react and respond in certain situations and triggers.
While advanced robot pets today already have cameras integrated into their design, they still lack the use of computer vision techniques. We may expect such technology to soon be used in robot pets to help them recognize and identify objects, facial expressions, speech, and sound sources.
Computer vision techniques and technologies will again allow robot pets to act more lifelike and foster a two-way interaction with their owners. We imagine that with this tech along with AI algorithms, robot pets can take their emotional and social benefits to a new level. Perhaps, they can also start acting as an added security measure in a home.
Whether robot pets are priced cheap or expensive, they are expected to be durable. With that, the materials often used in robot pet construction are plastic, metals, rubber, silicone, and high-tech materials for advanced models. However, the expectations and demand for robot pets require manufacturers to think of new materials and designs that will turn these bots more advanced and possibly, lifelike.
While some still find it creepy, there are plenty of human robots already out there and continue to be developed. Perhaps seeking inspiration from this, robot pets may soon get a makeover of their own and use “soft skin” to cover their bodies.
In a joint publication from Intelligent Robotics and Communication Labs, Kyoto, and the Dept. of Adaptive Machine Systems, Osaka University, Japan, the soft skin will consist of three layers. The outside layer will be made of thin silicone rubber, the middle layer will be made of thick silicone rubber, and the inner layer will be made of urethane foam. These materials will help create a human-like softness and surface friction.
To help detect triggers, tactile sensors will be embedded in the soft skin. This also helps a robot pet detect the owner’s position, posture, and when one is petting it. Said sensors will be film-type piezoelectric polymer sensors and have polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF).
One possible reason why people would opt for a robot pet is because of allergy restrictions. Along with a heightened awareness for hygiene and cleanliness, robot pets are seen as alternatives to living pets. As such, the use of antimicrobial and hypoallergenic materials in robot pet construction can be expected. These materials can retain the fluffy appearance and softness of a pet without the risk of germs and allergies.
With all the new technologies and available materials that can be used for robot pet construction, it’s exciting to see what models might come out in the following years. Until then, you can browse our guide on the best robot pets and experience the joy that these robotic companions can give.