Front. Psychol., 19 March 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00075

On the utilization of social animals as a model for social robotics

  • Department of Ethology, Eötvös University, Budapest, Hungary

Social robotics is a thriving field in building artificial agents. The possibility to construct agents that can engage in meaningful social interaction with humans presents new challenges for engineers. In general, social robotics has been inspired primarily by psychologists with the aim of building human-like robots. Only a small subcategory of “companion robots” (also referred to as robotic pets) was built to mimic animals. In this opinion essay we argue that all social robots should be seen as companions and more conceptual emphasis should be put on the inter-specific interaction between humans and social robots. This view is underlined by the means of an ethological analysis and critical evaluation of present day companion robots. We suggest that human–animal interaction provides a rich source of knowledge for designing social robots that are able to interact with humans under a wide range of conditions.

Keywords: social robotics, ethology, human–animal interaction, dogs, inter-specific interaction

Citation: Miklósi Á and Gácsi M (2012) On the utilization of social animals as a model for social robotics. Front. Psychology 3:75. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00075

Received: 23 December 2011; Paper pending published: 25 January 2012;
Accepted: 29 February 2012; Published online: 19 March 2012.

Edited by:

Thomas Bugnyar, Universität Wien, Austria

Reviewed by:

Jennifer Vonk, University of Southern Mississippi, USA
Francine L. Dolins, University of Michigan-Dearborn, USA
Mathias Osvath, Lund University, Sweden

Copyright: © 2012 Miklósi and Gácsi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Ádám Miklósi, Department of Ethology, Eötvös University, H-1117, Pázmány P. s. 1/c, Budapest, Hungary e-mail:

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