How Robot Pets May Use AI to Sense Your Emotions

Woof, woof, click?

Key Takeaways

  • The new KODA robot dog uses artificial intelligence to react to human emotions, its maker claims.  
  • The KODA, which costs about $45,000, could be used as a guard dog, a companion, or a seeing-eye dog. 
  • Another robot dog made by Boston Dynamics sells for about $75,000 and can navigate obstacles independently.
Two children playing outdoors with a Koda robotic dog.

Man’s next best friend might be a new robot dog that uses artificial intelligence to sense and react to human emotions.

The KODA dog can be used as a companion or a guard dog, its manufacturer claims. It’s one of a growing number of high-end robot dogs. But the KODA dog is different from competitors because it uses AI to get to know its owners. 

"The robot dog is meant to serve a multitude of purposes: family companion, seeing-eye dog, a vigilant guard dog, or a powerful supercomputer capable of solving complex problems," Emma Russell, CEO of KODA, said in an email interview. 

Networking Your Pooch

Each KODA is connected to a secure blockchain network that allows for decentralized processing. The network can share data, process solutions, and learn new skills, while discarding superfluous information, the company claims.

Russell said each dog's networked "brain" not only processes the challenges they encounter throughout the day, such as climbing stairs or walking on gravel, but the challenges of every robotic dog in the pack. 

To move, the KODA uses 14 high-torque motors, with two motors on the neck for animal-like mobility. It also has a high-resolution display and sensors that measure motion and foot tread. Its microphones can capture voiceprint recognition with 97% accuracy, the company claims. 

The Koda robot dog.

"Through KODA’s groundbreaking decentralized AI network, a KODA dog with an owner in Arizona may never encounter an icy road or snowfall," Russell said.

"Thus, it will never have the opportunity to learn how to walk in that wintery environment. But, through the network, the Arizona dog can learn how to walk on ice from a KODA in Alaska. Without ever having to set a 'paw' in a wintery climate, the dog in Phoenix will have learned how to walk on ice."

The KODA dog can come to understand its owner, the company claims. Russell said the robot dog uses its networking capabilities and sensors to learn when an owner is sad, depressed, happy, or excited, and react appropriately. 

KODA’s $75,000 competitor

High-end robot dogs are having a moment. Boston Dynamics recently announced that its robot dog, Spot, is for sale. It can walk up to 3 mph, climb terrain, avoid obstacles, see 360 degrees, and perform programmed tasks.

"At Boston Dynamics, we have spent decades creating and refining robots with advanced mobility, dexterity, and intelligence because we believe agile robots can solve a broad range of real world problems," Marc Raibert, chairman and founder of Boston Dynamics, said in a news release.

The Boston Dynamic Spot robot dog.
Bostino Dynamics

"The combination of Spot’s sophisticated software and high-performance mechanical design enables the robot to augment difficult or dangerous human work," Raibert said. "Now you can use Spot to increase human safety in environments and tasks where traditional automation hasn’t been successful."

For those who want a more advanced toy than a robotic canine, there's also the $399 Tombot Puppy. The manufacturer claims the Tombot is the "most realistic robotic animal in the world." This dog is meant for people with health problems who can’t care for a real dog. It makes sounds recorded from a real Labrador puppy and has sensors that allow it to respond when touched. 

Tombot CEO Tom Stevens said on the company’s website that he came up with the idea for the puppy after his mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. 

"My mother lost her ability to care for herself, but at the same time succeeded in training her Goldendoodle puppy 'Golden Bear' to be aggressive towards her caregiver," he said. "Golden Bear was my mother’s best friend; losing her contributed to her severe loneliness and depression."

Pound puppies may be nearly free, but robot dogs don’t come cheap. The Boston Dynamics dog costs about $75,000, while the KODA dog reportedly will cost about $45,000. 

A robotic dog may not be cheap, but think of the savings in kibble and dog treats. An AI-powered dog that runs on blockchain technology could be the perfect companion for those who’ve made a killing trading Bitcoin.

Was this page helpful?